Signal minus 1: a key factor in immunological tolerance to tissue-specific self antigens?

Immunology and Cell Biology
C R Parish


Recent data suggest that many autoreactive T cells, particularly to tissue-specific self antigens, can escape thymic deletion. The current dogma is that these autoreactive T cells are silenced by the failure of most tissues to provide co-stimulation (signal 2), antigen alone (signal 1) inducing T cell unresponsiveness. However, I propose that activation of autoreactive T cells frequently occurs but autodestruction by effector T cells is tightly regulated. This phenomenon is most evident with lymph node metastasizing tumour cells where the regional lymph node can mount a vigorous response to the invading tumour cells but tumour growth is unimpaired. I suggest that autodestruction is prevented by inhibitory receptors on T cells which recognize class I MHC structures on target cells. These receptors, which I propose deliver 'signal minus 1' to T cells, were recently described on NK cells and a subpopulation of peripheral T cells. They are also strikingly similar to a family of anti-self receptors that my laboratory described on murine T and B cells 15 years ago. In the 'signal minus 1' model, antigen-activated T cells acquire the inhibitory receptors when they become co-stimulation independent and gain the ability to exit lymphoid...Continue Reading


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