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Bacterial superantigen toxins induce a lethal cytokine storm by enhancing B7-2/CD28 costimulatory receptor engagement, a critical immune checkpoint.

ABSTRACT: Formation of the costimulatory axis between the B7-2 and CD28 coreceptors is critical for T-cell activation. Superantigens, Gram-positive bacterial virulence factors, cause toxic shock and sepsis by hyperinducing inflammatory cytokines. We report a novel role for costimulatory receptors CD28 and B7-2 as obligatory receptors for superantigens, rendering them therapeutic targets. We show that by engaging not only CD28 but also its coligand B7-2 directly, superantigens potently enhance the interaction between B7-2 and CD28, inducing thereby T-cell hyperactivation. Using a conserved twelve amino-acid domain, superantigens engage both B7-2 and CD28 at their homodimer interfaces, sites far removed from where these receptors interact, implying that inflammatory signaling can be controlled through the receptor homodimer interfaces. Short B7-2 and CD28 dimer interface mimetic peptides bind diverse superantigens, prevent superantigen binding to cell-surface B7-2 or CD28, attenuate inflammatory cytokine overexpression, and protect mice from lethal superantigen challenge. Thus, superantigens induce a cytokine storm by mediating not only the interaction between MHC-II molecule and T-cell receptor but critically, by promoting B7-2/CD28 coreceptor engagement, forcing the principal costimulatory axis to signal excessively. Our findings highlight the B7/CD28 interaction as a bottleneck in signaling for expression of inflammatory cytokines. B7-2 and CD28 homodimer interface mimetic peptides prevent superantigen lethality by blocking the superantigen-host costimulatory receptor interaction.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5341606 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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