Equine pregnancy-specific glycoprotein CEACAM49 secreted by endometrial cup cells activates TGFB
In early equine pregnancy a highly invasive trophoblast cell subpopulation, the chorionic girdle cells, invade the endometrium and form endometrial cups (EC). These cells express classical MHC molecules, thereby stimulating a humoral and cellular immune response, resulting in a massive accumulation of maternal CD4+ and CD8+ T cells around the EC. Nevertheless, no immediate destruction of endometrial cups by maternal lymphoid cells occurs, presumably due to immune tolerance. Although the environment of EC is rich in TGFB and in FOXP3+, CD4+ T cells, the mechanisms leading to tolerance have not been elucidated. Recently, we discovered that equine trophoblast cells secrete pregnancy-specific glycoproteins (PSGs). Since human and murine PSGs activate latent TGFB, we hypothesized that equine PSGs may have a similar activity. We performed plasmon surface resonance experiments to show that equine PSG CEACAM49 can directly bind to the latency-associated peptide (LAP) of both TGFB1 and TGFB2. We then found that the binding of CEACAM49 leads to the activation of TGFB1 as determined by both ELISA and cell-based assays. Furthermore, the activation of TGFB is a unique function of PSGs within the human CEA family, because CEACAM1, 3, 5, 6, 8 do not activate this cytokine. This finding further strengthens the classification of CEACAM49 as an equine PSG. Based on our results, we hypothesize that activation of latent TGFB in the EC environment by equine PSGs secreted by invasive trophoblast cells, could contribute to the generation of regulatory T cells (Tregs) to maintain immune tolerance.
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