Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Microbiology and Immunology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rebecca Adkins

Second Committee Member

Thomas R. Malek

Third Committee Member

Richard L. Riley

Fourth Committee Member

Alberto Pugliese

Fifth Committee Member

Eckhard R. Podack

Sixth Committee Member

Paolo Casali


The T cell function of a proliferation inducing ligand (APRIL or TNFSF13) remains unclear. By comparing APRIL-/- mice with wild type (WT) mice, we have investigated the roles of APRIL in Th1, Th2 and Th17 responses. With regard to APRIL in Th1 responses, cultured APRIL-/- CD4+ T cells showed increased IFN-gamma production under non-polarizing, but not under Th1 polarizing, conditions. No difference in antigen-specific IgG2a levels existed between APRIL-/- and WT mice immunized with ovalbumin (OVA) and complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) which induces Th1 polarization. Our data indicate that APRIL represses Th1 responses only under non-polarizing conditions. As for APRIL in Th2 responses, cultured APRIL-/- CD4+ T cells exhibited enhanced Th2 cytokine production under non-polarizing conditions, and augmented IL-13 production under Th2 polarizing conditions. Upon immunization with OVA and aluminum potassium sulfate (alum) which induces Th2 polarization, APRIL-/- mice responded with an increased antigen-specific IgG1 response. In the OVA-induced allergic lung inflammation model which is mediated by Th2 responses, APRIL-/- mice had significantly aggravated allergic lung inflammation. Accordingly, a decoy receptor-Ig fusion protein, TACI-Ig, treatment to block APRIL in WT mice enhanced allergic lung inflammation. In agreement with the role of APRIL in CD4+ T cells, the transfer of APRIL sufficient, OVA-specific, TCR transgenic CD4+ T (OT-II) cells to APRIL-/- mice restored the suppressive effect of APRIL on allergic lung inflammation. Mechanistically, the expression of c-maf, the IL-4 gene transcription factor, was markedly enhanced in APRIL-/- CD4+ T cells under non-polarizing and Th2 polarizing conditions. Our data suggest that APRIL inhibits Th2 responses and allergic lung inflammation by suppressing IL-4 production in CD4+ T cells via diminished c-maf expression, and by suppressing IL-13 production in CD4+ T cells via an IL-4 independent, IL-13 specific pathway. Regarding APRIL in Th17 responses, the incidence of Th17-mediated collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in APRIL-/- mice was reduced, in parallel with diminished levels of antigen-specific IgG2a autoantibody and IL-17 production. Our data indicate that APRIL promotes IL-17 production, and that APRIL-triggered signals contribute to arthritis. Our data clearly show that APRIL is important in T cell immunity, inhibitory in Th2 responses and costimulatory in Th17 responses.


TACI; BCMA; TNF Homology Domain; Cysteine-rich Domains; Asthma; Rheumatoid Arthritis