Modulating T cell activation is critical for treating autoimmune diseases but requires avoiding concomitant opportunistic infections. Antigen binding to the T cell receptor (TCR) triggers the recruitment of the cytosolic adaptor protein Nck to a proline-rich sequence in the cytoplasmic tail of the TCR's CD3ε subunit. Through virtual screening and using combinatorial chemistry, we have generated an orally available, low-molecular weight inhibitor of the TCR-Nck interaction that selectively inhibits TCR-triggered T cell activation with an IC50 (median inhibitory concentration) ~1 nM. By modulating TCR signaling, the inhibitor prevented the development of psoriasis and asthma and, furthermore, exerted a long-lasting therapeutic effect in a model of autoimmune encephalomyelitis. However, it did not prevent the generation of a protective memory response against a mouse pathogen, suggesting that the compound might not exert its effects through immunosuppression. These results suggest that inhibiting an immediate TCR signal has promise for treating a broad spectrum of human T cell-mediated autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.