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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphorylation in T cells by a novel immunosuppressive agent, leflunomide.

Leflunomide, a novel immunosuppressive drug, is able to prevent and reverse allograft and xenograft rejection in rodents, dogs, and monkeys. It is also effective in the treatment of several rodent models of arthritis and autoimmune disease. In vitro studies indicate that leflunomide is capable of inhibiting anti-CD3- and interleukin-2 (IL-2)-stimulated T cell proliferation. However, the biochemical mechanism for the inhibitory activity of leflunomide has not been elucidated. In this study, we characterized the inhibitory effects of leflunomide on Src family (p56lck and p59fyn)-mediated protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Leflunomide was able to inhibit p59fyn and p56lck activity in in vitro tyrosine kinase assays. The IC50 values for p59fyn (immunoprecipitated from either Jurkat or CTLL-4 cell lysate) autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of the exogenous substrate, histone 2B, were 125-175 and 22-40 microM respectively, while the IC50 values for p56lck (immunoprecipitated from Jurkat cell lysates) autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of histone 2B were 160 and 65 microM respectively. We also demonstrated the ability of leflunomide to inhibit protein tyrosine phosphorylation induced by anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody in Jurkat cells. The IC50 values for total intracellular tyrosine phosphorylation ranged from 5 to 45 microM, with the IC50 values for the zeta chain and phospholipase C isoform gamma 1 being 35 and 44 microM respectively. Leflunomide also inhibited Ca2+ mobilization in Jurkat cells stimulated by anti-CD3 antibody but not in those stimulated by ionomycin. Distal events of anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody stimulation, namely, IL-2 production and IL-2 receptor expression on human T lymphocytes, were also inhibited by leflunomide. Finally, tyrosine phosphorylation in CTLL-4 cells stimulated by IL-2 was also inhibited by leflunomide. These data collectively demonstrate the ability of leflunomide to inhibit tyrosine kinase activity in vitro, and suggest that inhibition of tyrosine phosphorylation events may be the mechanism by which leflunomide functions as an immunosuppressive agent.[1]


  1. Inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphorylation in T cells by a novel immunosuppressive agent, leflunomide. Xu, X., Williams, J.W., Bremer, E.G., Finnegan, A., Chong, A.S. J. Biol. Chem. (1995) [Pubmed]
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