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Keywords:

  • Butyrophilin;
  • Cell activation;
  • Co-stimulatory molecules;
  • T cells

Abstract

The human butyrophilin (BTN) 3 or CD277 molecules belong to the B7 family members and are expressed in various immune cells such as T and NK cells. Here, we show that CD277 triggering considerably enhances TCR-induced cytokine production and cell proliferation, even when another co-stimulatory molecule, CD28, is engaged. These CD277-induced additive functional effects are in accordance with the detection of early T-cell activation events such as TCR-induced cell signaling being increased upon CD277 engagement. However, we found that CD277 triggering is not involved in CD16- or NKp46-induced NK cell activation. BTN3/CD277 comprises three structurally related members, BTN3A1, BTN3A2 and BTN3A3. CD277 antibodies recognize all isoforms and we describe a differential expression of BTN3 isoforms between T and NK cells that could explain differential CD277 functions between T and NK cells. Our results show that, while T cells express all BTN3/CD277 transcripts, NK cells express mostly BTN3A2, which lacks the B30.2 intracellular domain. Furthermore, NKp30-induced cytokine production is decreased by the specific engagement of BTN3A2, but not by BTN3A1 triggering. Thus, we provide new insights into the CD277 co-stimulatory pathway that may differentially participate in the regulation of various cell-mediated immune responses.