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Early pregnancy factor (EPF) is a secreted protein with immunosuppressive and growth factor properties. It has been shown to suppress the delayed-type hypersensitivity response in mice as well as acute and chronic forms of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in rats and mice, respectively. In previous studies, we have demonstrated that EPF binds to a population of lymphocytes and we hypothesized that it mediates its suppressive effects by binding to CD4+ T cells. In the present study, we isolated monocytes and subpopulations of lymphocytes and labelled them with fluoresceinated EPF in order to determine which populations bind EPF. We demonstrated that EPF binds specifically to CD4+, CD8+, CD14+ (monocytes) and CD56+ NK cells but not to CD19+ B cells. The identity of the molecule(s) on the cell surface that is targeted by EPF is unknown, but as EPF is an extracellular homologue of the intracellular protein chaperonin 10 (Cpn10), we examined the possibility that the EPF receptor is a membrane-associated form of chaperonin 60 (Cpn60), the functional associate of Cpn10 within the cell. The EPF target molecule on lymphocytes was visualized by chemical cross-linking of exogenous iodinated Cpn10 to cells and probed with anti-Cpn60. The effect of anti-Cpn60 on activity in the EPF bioassay, the rosette inhibition test, was also examined. In both instances, no specific interaction of this antibody and the putative receptor was observed. It was concluded that the cell surface molecule targeted by EPF is unlikely to be a homologue of Cpn60.


Stavrosia Athanasas-Platsis, Maria J Somodevilla-Torres, Halle Morton, Alice C Cavanagh. Investigation of the immunocompetent cells that bind early pregnancy factor and preliminary studies of the early pregnancy factor target molecule. Immunology and cell biology. 2004 Aug;82(4):361-9

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PMID: 15283845

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