T cell intrinsic heterodimeric complexes between HVEM and BTLA determine receptivity to the surrounding microenvironment

Timothy C. Cheung, Lisa M. Oborne, Marcos W. Steinberg, Matthew G. Macauley, Satoshi Fukuyama, Hideki Sanjo, Claire D'Souza, Paula S. Norris, Klaus Pfeffer, Kenneth M. Murphy, Mitchell Kronenberg, Patricia G. Spear, Carl F. Ware

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


The inhibitory cosignaling pathway formed between the TNF receptor herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM, TNFRSF14) and the Ig superfamily members, B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) and CD160, limits the activation of T cells. However, BTLA and CD160 can also serve as activating ligands for HVEM when presented in trans by adjacent cells, thus forming a bidirectional signaling pathway. BTLA and CD160 can directly activate the HVEM-dependent NF-κB RelA transcriptional complex raising the question of how NF-κB activation is repressed in naive T cells. In this study, we show BTLA interacts with HVEM in cis, forming a heterodimeric complex in naive T cells that inhibits HVEM-dependent NF-κB activation. The cis-interaction between HVEM and BTLA is the predominant form expressed on the surface of naive human and mouse T cells. The BTLA ectodomain acts as a competitive inhibitor blocking BTLA and CD160 from binding in trans to HVEM and initiating NF-κB activation. The TNF-related ligand, LIGHT (homologous to lymphotoxins, exhibits inducible expression, and competes with HSV glycoprotein D for HVEM, a receptor expressed by T lymphocytes, or TNFSF14) binds HVEM in the cis-complex, but NF-κB activation was attenuated, suggesting BTLA prevents oligomerization of HVEM in the cis-complex. Genetic deletion of BTLA or pharmacologic disruption of the HVEM-BTLA cis-complex in T cells promoted HVEM activation in trans. Interestingly, herpes simplex virus envelope glycoprotein D formed a cis-complex with HVEM, yet surprisingly, promoted the activation NF-κB RelA. We suggest that the HVEM-BTLA cis-complex competitively inhibits HVEM activation by ligands expressed in the surrounding microenvironment, thus helping maintain T cells in the naive state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7286-7296
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'T cell intrinsic heterodimeric complexes between HVEM and BTLA determine receptivity to the surrounding microenvironment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this