SAGE analysis of cell types involved in tolerance induction.
Nolan KF., Cobbold SP., Waldmann H.
Investigations into the mechanisms of immunological tolerance are currently hindered by a paucity of convenient markers, both for the identification and isolation of tolerant cell types and for monitoring the establishment of tolerance in in vivo models. Although high-affinity autoreactive T cells are deleted in the thymus during the establishment of central tolerance, escaping autoreactive cells require modulation in the periphery. Dendritic cells (DC) and regulatory T cells (Treg) are both implicated in the establishment and maintenance of peripheral tolerance, although specific interactions and mechanisms remain to be established. The serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) approach to transcript profiling offers potential, not only for new insight into tolerogenic mechanisms, unbiased by current dogma, but also for the identification of novel molecular markers of tolerance. SAGE provides both quantitative and qualitative information on transcripts sampled on the basis of frequency of occurrence in the initial mRNA pool. This information is generated in the form of electronic databases that accumulate as a permanent resource and confer on SAGE the ability to readily compare across wide datasets. This offers particular potential when attempting to correlate gene expression with functional phenotype. By comparing variously generated functionally distinct/related immune populations, such as effector T cells and either natural, CD4+CD25+, or adaptive, Tr1, Tregs and/or immune and tolerance prone DC, it should be possible, using SAGE, to identify both individual genes and also signatures of genes associated with protolerogenic rather than immunogenic phenotypes.