Removing the molecule TACI from immune cells in mice with lupus protects against the disease without compromising immunity.
1 Minute read
Removing a molecule called TACI from immune cells protects mice with lupus from the disease without compromising their natural immunity.
The discovery was made by a research team led by Professor Fabienne Mackay from the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
The autoimmune disease lupus is associated with excessive amounts of a protein called B-cell activating factor (BAFF). BAFF normally activates B cells to produce antibodies for fighting infections and cancer, but too much BAFF leads to the production of autoantibodies. These autoantibodies attack tissues and organs such as the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Current lupus treatments block BAFF, which helps to manage symptoms but leaves patients vulnerable to complications like infections.
BAFF binds to two different receptors on the surface of B cells. Professor Mackay’s team discovered that one of these receptors, called TACI (for 'transmembrane activator and CAML interactor’), is required to produce autoantibodies.
The researchers showed that removing TACI from B cells decreased the BAFF-induced production of autoantibodies in mice with lupus without affecting normal B cell function. This suggests that molecules blocking TACI in humans could be used as lupus therapies without leaving patients vulnerable to infection.
Professor Mackay’s team, which is based at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, is developing lupus treatments that work by blocking TACI.
NHMRC Development Grant to Professor Fabienne Mackay
Molecular control of B-cell homeostasis in health and malignancy (APP1113659)
Victorian State Government Operational Infrastructure Support
Figgett WA et al (2015) Deleting the BAFF receptor TACI protects against systemic lupus erythematosus without extensive reduction of B cell numbers. Journal of Autoimmunity 61: 9–16. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2015.04.007
Re-use this text
Please use the text of this article for your own purposes. The text is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 International license. This lets you copy, transform and share the text without restriction. We appreciate appropriate credit and links back to this website. Other content on this page (such as images, videos and logos) is not covered by the CC BY license and may not be used without permission from the copyright holder. If you have any questions about using this text, please contact the research web team.
First published on 30 March 2022.
Share this article
Melbourne Biomedical Precinct
Explore the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, where health researchers and industry partners collaborate to deliver lifesaving drugs and treatments.
Biomedical Engineering Innovation PhD Program
Learn more about the University of Melbourne’s Biomedical Engineering Innovation PhD Program.
Find out how we can help to grow your organisation - from talent, to projects and partnerships.