We describe the generation of mice that express a transgenic T cell receptor (TCR) (5B6) specific for the encephalitogenic myelin proteolipid protein (PLP) peptide 139–151, on the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis–resistant (EAE-resistant) B10.S background. Despite harboring a high frequency of self-reactive T cells, 5B6 transgenic mice on the B10.S background rarely develop spontaneous EAE, which is in striking contrast to 5B6 transgenic mice on the EAE-susceptible SJL background. The relative resistance to spontaneous EAE in transgenic B10.S mice is not due to deletion or anergy of T cells, but appears to be controlled by APCs. Analysis of APCs revealed a lower activation state and a lower T cell–activating capacity for APCs from B10.S mice than for those from EAE-susceptible SJL mice. When APCs in 5B6 transgenic B10.S mice were activated, for example, via TLR9 or TLR4, T cell tolerance was broken, resulting in EAE. Our findings demonstrate that activation of APCs via innate immune receptors can break self tolerance and trigger the development of autoimmunity even in a genetically resistant strain. These findings suggest that the development of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis is determined at least partly by the endogenous activation state of APCs.
Hanspeter Waldner, Mary Collins, Vijay K. Kuchroo