Research Papers: Immunology:

Decreased Gαq expression in T cells correlates with enhanced cytokine production and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

Yan He, Yan Huang, Lei Tu, Jiao Luo, Bing Yu, Hongyan Qian, Lihua Duan _ and Guixiu Shi

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:85741-85749. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13903

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Yan He1,*, Yan Huang1,2,*, Lei Tu3,*, Jiao Luo1, Bing Yu1, Hongyan Qian1, Lihua Duan1 and Guixiu Shi1,2

1 Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China

2 Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fuzhou, Fujian, China

3 Division of Gastroenterology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Lihua Duan, email:

Guixiu Shi, email:

Keywords: SLE, Gαq, T cell, apoptosis, Immunology and Microbiology Section, Immune response, Immunity

Received: October 17, 2016 Accepted: December 01, 2016 Published: December 11, 2016


Aberrant T cell immune responses appear central to the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We previously reported that Gαq, the alpha subunit of Gq, regulates T and B cell immune responses, promoting autoimmunity. To address whether Gαq contributes to the pathogenesis of SLE, Gαq mRNA expression was studied using real time-PCR in PBMCs and T cells from SLE patients as well as age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Our results showed that Gαq mRNA expression was decreased in PBMCs and T cells from SLE patients compared to healthy individuals. Correlation analyses showed that Gαq expression in T cells from SLE patients was associated with disease severity (as per SLE Disease Activity Index), the presence of lupus nephritis, and expression of Th1, Th2 and Th17 cytokines. In keeping with clinical results, T-helper cell subsets (Th1, Th2 and Th17) were over-represented in Gαq knockout mice. In addition, Gαq expression in SLE T cells was negatively correlated with the expression of Bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic gene, and positively correlated with the expression of Bax, a pro-apoptotic gene. These data suggest that reduced Gαq levels in T cells may promote enhanced and prolonged T cell activation, contributing to the clinical manifestations of SLE.

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