The impact of CD160 deficiency on alloreactive CD8 T cell responses and allograft rejection
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CD160 is a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily with a pattern of expression mainly restricted to cytotoxic cells. To assess the functional relevance of the HVEM/CD160 signaling pathway in allogeneic cytotoxic responses, exon 2 of the CD160 gene was targeted by CRISPR/Cas9 to generate CD160 deficient mice. Next, we evaluated the impact of CD160 deficiency in the course of an alloreactive response. To that aim, parental donor WT (wild-type) or CD160 KO (knock-out) T cells were adoptively transferred into non-irradiated semiallogeneic F1 recipients, in which donor alloreactive CD160 KO CD4 T cells and CD8 T cells clonally expanded less vigorously than in WT T cell counterparts. This differential proliferative response rate at the early phase of T cell expansion influenced the course of CD8 T cell differentiation and the composition of the effector T cell pool that led to a significant decreased of the memory precursor effector cells (MPECs) / short-lived effector cells (SLECs) ratio in CD160 KO CD8 T cells compared to WT CD8 T cells. Despite these differences in T cell proliferation and differentiation, allogeneic MHC class I mismatched (bm1) skin allograft survival in CD160 KO recipients was comparable to that of WT recipients. However, the administration of CTLA-4.Ig showed an enhanced survival trend of bm1 skin allografts in CD160 KO with respect to WT recipients. Finally, CD160 deficient NK cells were as proficient as CD160 WT NK cells in rejecting allogeneic cellular allografts or MHC class I deficient tumor cells. CD160 may represent a CD28 alternative costimulatory molecule for the modulation of allogeneic CD8 T cell responses either in combination with costimulation blockade or by direct targeting of alloreactive CD8 T cells that upregulate CD160 expression in response to alloantigen stimulation.