Background: Granulysin is an antimicrobial and proinflammatory protein with several isoforms. While the 9 kDa isoform is a well described cytolytic molecule with pro-inflammatory activity, the functions of the 15 kDa isoform is less well understood. Recently it was shown that 15 kDa Granulysin can act as an alarmin that is able to activate monocytes and immature dendritic cells. Granulocyte Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF) is a growth factor widely used in immunotherapy both for in vivo and ex vivo applications, especially for its proliferative effects.
Methods: We analyzed gene expression profiles of monocytes cultured with 15 kDa Granulysin or GM-CSF for 4, 12, 24 and 48 hours to unravel both similarities and differences between the effects of these stimulators.
Results: The analysis revealed a common signature induced by both factors at each time point, but over time, a more specific signature for each factor became evident. At all time points, 15 kDa Granulysin induced immune response, chemotaxis and cell adhesion genes. In addition, only 15 kDa Granulsyin induced the activation of pathways related to fundamental dendritic cell functions, such as co-stimulation of T-cell activation and Th1 development. GM-CSF specifically down-regulated genes related to cell cycle arrest and the immune response. More specifically, cytokine production, lymphocyte mediated immunity and humoral immune response were down-regulated at late time points.
Conclusion: This study provides important insights on the effects of a novel agent, 15 kDa granulysin, that holds promise for therapeutic applications aimed at the activation of the immune response.