Suppressin: An endogenous negative regulator of immune cell activation
We have recently identified a new suppressor molecule we named suppressin (SPN) that has all the characteristics of a global negative regulator of the immune system. SPN is a unique 63-kD monomeric polypeptide with a pI of 8.1 that is produced and secreted under basal conditions by murine splenocytes, human peripheral mononuclear cells, and hormone-secreting pituitary cells. The biological actions of SPN in vitro include the inhibition of mitogen-induced proliferation and immunoglobulin synthesis of lymphocytes and the suppression of interleukin-2-dependent CTLL-2 cell proliferation. In addition, SPN enhances natural killer cell activity by eliciting interferon-α and-β synthesis and secretion. SPN effects are reversible, nontoxic, and require the continuous presence of exogenous SPN. T lymphocytes stimulated with concanavalin A or phytohemagglutinin are more sensitive to SPN (90% inhibition) than are lipopolysaccharide-stimulated B cells (60% inhibition). SPN arrests lymphocytes in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle after reduction of their RNA, protein and DNA synthesis, suggesting that SPN inhibits the processes required for G0 transition to G1. SPN is found intracellularly in all unstimulated lymphocyte subsets, monocytes, and in phytohemagglutinin-activated T lymphocytes immunopositive for the low affinity interleukin-2 receptor. These results suggest that SPN may be a major negative regulator of cell proliferation in the immune system. All SPN-producing cell types are also sensitive to SPN. Collectively, the results of these experiments provide the foundations for a model in which SPN regulates lymphocyte proliferation in an autocrine and/or paracrine manner. Additional evidence supporting this hypothesis was provided by experiments showing that by blocking endogenous SPN activity in vitro with neutralizing anti-SPN antibodies unstimulated lymphocyte proliferation is induced. Lastly, SPN also inhibits the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cells in vitro, suggesting a potential role for SPN in regulating tumor cell proliferation.