All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Scott R Barnum

Advisory Committee Members

Dan C Bullard

Chander Raman

Peter Burrows

Louis Justement

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Heersink School of Medicine


Members of the ß2-integrin family of adhesion molecules, CD11a, CD11b, and CD11c, have all been shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). CD11d had yet to be studied in demyelinating disease and its functions remained unclear. We report here that CD11d is the only member of the ß2-integrin family of adhesion molecules that fails to protect against the development of EAE. Surprisingly, the EAE studies suggested that CD11a, CD11b, and CD11c were all contributing to T cell activity during disease development by mechanisms beyond the migration of these cells into the CNS. However, the contributions of individual T cell subsets to the overall phenotypes seen were unclear. Earlier studies show that over the course of EAE a higher proportion of Γδ T cells express the ß2-integrins when compared to αß T cells. Given this we hypothesized that the ß2-integrin family was important to the functions of Γß T cells that contributed to the development of EAE. However, we show here that even though expression is enriched in this T cell subset the ß2-integrins do not seem to be required on Γß T cells for disease development. The ß2-integrin family has also been implicated in regulatory T cell function and homeostasis. Studies using transfer EAE with CD11a-/- mice have suggested these mice may have regulatory defects. Given this we next investigated the role CD11a plays in regulatory T cell biology. We show here that CD11a-/- mice have reduced Treg populations throughout the secondary lymph tissue and that this reduction may be due to a reduced capacity to generate peripheral Tregs. We also found that CD11a is critical to Treg function in vitro, but does not seem to be as important in vivo. Importantly CD11a appears to be mediating its immunosuppressive effects independently of interactions with ICAM-1 on target T cells. Overall, the studies presented here provide further evidence that the ß2-integrin family of adhesion molecules functions in many aspects of T cell biology aside from cellular migration and that these functions differ between T cell subsets.



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