Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Characterization of a Novel Dendritic Cell-specific Protein in Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases

Year Awarded: 2019

Term: 3 years

Funding Amount: $412,500

Affiliation(s): Laval University

Province(s): Quebec

Researcher(s): Dr. Luc Vallières

Impact Goal(s): Understand and Halt Disease Progression

Summary: Autoreactive immune cells called T cells play a central role in diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and MS-like animal models (EAE mouse model). To perform their role, T cell activity is regulated by dendritic cells (DC). Recently, the team found a novel cell-surface protein of unknown function that is exclusively produced by DCs. This research aims to understand this novel protein to determine its mechanism of action and importance in the MS-like animal model.

Project Description: Dendritic cells (DCs) orchestrate the activity of immune cells called T cells. A major challenge in the field is to discover DC-specific molecules that would allow us to identify and target DCs with accuracy and that would help to explain their unique properties. The goal of this project is to clarify the function of a novel cell-surface protein of unknown function that is exclusively produced by DCs in a mouse model of MS. They hypothesize is that the protein in question is predominantly produced by a certain type of inflammation-induced DCs, in which it contributes to key processes (e.g. adhesion, migration, capture of antigens) required for the activation of autoreactive T cells. To test this, the group will use state-of-the-art techniques to achieve three specific aims: 1) determine the spatiotemporal distribution of that protein in the EAE mouse model; 2) demonstrate its effects and importance in the EAE model; and 3) clarify its mechanism of action. Results from the mouse model will be confirmed in people with MS. 

Potential Impact:  This project will provide: 1) fundamental knowledge on the role and importance of a novel protein in DC biology and autoimmune demyelination processes; 2) applicable knowledge on the use of that protein as a biomarker and therapeutic target for the treatment of MS; and 3) valuable tools (i.e. transgenic mouse models, antibodies, biological database on DCs) for the research community. 

Project Status: In progress

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