Consuerga-Fernandez et al., 2017. Frontiers in Immunology.
BACKGROUND: The CD6 lymphocyte receptor has been involved in the pathophysiology of different autoimmune disorders and is now considered a feasible target for their treatment. In vitro data show the relevance of CD6 in the stabilization of adhesive contacts between T-cell and antigen-presenting cells, and the modulation of T-cell receptor signals. However, the in vivo consequences of such a function are yet undisclosed due to the lack of suitable genetically modified animal models. Here, the in vitro and in vivo challenge of CD6-deficient (CD6−/−) cells with allogeneic cells was used as an approach to explore the role of CD6 in immune responses under relative physiological stimulatory conditions. Mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) assays showed lower proliferative responses of splenocytes from CD6−/− _mice together with higher induction of regulatory T cells (Treg, CD4+_CD25+_FoxP3+_) with low suppressive activity on T and B-cell proliferation. In line with these results, CD6−/− _mice undergoing a lupus-like disorder induced by chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGvHD) showed higher serum titers of anti-double-stranded DNA and nucleosome autoantibodies. This occurred together with reduced splenomegaly, which was associated with lower in vivo bromodesoxyuridine incorporation of spleen cells and with increased percentages of spleen follicular B cells (B2, CD21+_CD23hi) and Treg cells. Interestingly, functional analysis of in vivo-generated CD6−/− _Treg cells exhibited defective suppressive activity. In conclu-sion, the data from MLR and cGvHD-induced lupus-like models in CD6−/− _mice illustrate the relevance of CD6 in T (and B) cell proliferative responses and, even more importantly, Treg induction and suppressive function in the in vivo maintenance of peripheral tolerance.