Consuerga-Fernandez et al., 2018. Autoimmune Rev.
BACKGROUND: CD6 is a cell surface glycoprotein expressed by most T cells and a subset of B cells that has incompletely-defined roles in regulation of lymphocyte development, selection, activation and differentiation. The two main known mammalian CD6 ligands, CD166/ALCAM and the very recently reported CD318, are widely expressed by both immune cells and a wide range of other cell types, including various epithelial and mesenchymal cell types, as well as many neoplasms. Moreover, CD6 is also a receptor for several pathogen- and damage-associated molecular patterns. Further layers of complexity of CD6 function are implied by the existence of multiple CD6 isoforms generated by alternative splicing of CD6 transcripts and soluble forms of CD6 released by proteases from the lymphocyte surface. Multiple lines of evidence are now emerging to implicate CD6 and its ligands in the pathogenesis and potentially the treatment of human autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. CD6 is an important multiple sclerosis risk gene, and mice genetically deficient in CD6 or CD318, or treated with antibodies or chimerical proteins that interfere with CD6-ligand interactions, are protected from experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. CD6 deficient mice also show reduced TH17 differentiation and protection from disease in a moue model of psoriasis, providing a foundation for successful clinical trials of an anti-CD6 monoclonal antibody (Itolizumab) in psoriasis. Here we review current knowledge about CD6 and its ligands, and consider its potential value as a therapeutic target in a range of immune-mediated disorders.