Cytokine-Glycosaminoglycan Interactions and the Role of Dermatan Sulphate-PG and TGF-β1 in the Regulation of Interferon-γ Production by Murine NK Cells

Karishma Bavisi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Enhancing the understanding of the biological and functional role of specific cytokines in the regulation of Natural Killer (NK) cell activity is vital to cell-mediated immunity against infections and tumour development. Binding of cytokines with glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and proteoglycans (PGs) have been known as a potential mechanism for regulating biological activity of many cytokines. In this thesis work, the binding of interleukins IL-11, IL-18 and IL-22 to heparin/HS was investigated using an ELISA approach, alongwith examination of primary sequences, 3-D protein structures and molecular docking calculations. Our results demonstrate that these interleukins do not bind to heparin/HS, which implies that the heparin-binding property should not be considered a generic characteristic for any class of cytokines. Further research focussed on examining the functional role of NK cell-surface PG, particularly dermatan sulphate (DS), in IL-12 signalled IFN-γ production using a PG synthesis inhibitor, p-nitrophenyl-β-xyloside. Our findings show partial inhibition of IFN-γ due to disrupted GAG/PG metabolism. Mechanistically, DS-PG interference was found independent of STAT-4 phosphorylation but suggestive of involvement essentially at the transcriptional or post-transcriptional level. In addition, our data implies that p-nitrophenyl-β-xyloside exerts cellular effects attenuating NK cell response to IL-12, independent of GAG-PGs. Finally, an interplay of molecular mechanisms between immunoregulatory factors, TGF-β1 and IL-12, in suppressing IFN-γ expression in mNK cells is studied. A clear evidence of partial inhibition of IL-12-induced IFN-γ production independent of NK cell proliferation is presented that does not directly involve key transcription factors of IFN-γ expression, STAT-4 and T-bet. However, promoter and early inhibition (3-6 hrs) studies suggested a possible role of TGF-β1 in chromatin remodelling of Ifng locus that regulates IFN-γ expression. Overall, identifying IL-heparin/HS interactions within different cytokine families and dissecting molecular events of cytokine signalling in NK cells are therapeutically important in recognising potential targets to manage cell-mediated immune responses.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Soloviev, Mikhail, Supervisor
  • Beauchamp, Jonathan, Supervisor
  • Rider, Chris, Supervisor
  • Alifragis, Pavlos, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019


  • Cytokine-Glycosaminoglycan
  • GAGs
  • GAG-binding
  • Heparin/Heparan sulphate
  • Dermatan Sulphate
  • Interleukin-11 (IL-11)
  • Interleukin-18 (IL-18)
  • Interleukin-22 (IL-22)
  • Interleukin 12 (IL-12)
  • Interferon-gamma
  • TGF-beta1
  • NK cells
  • STAT-4
  • T-bet
  • IL-12 signalling
  • Heparin-binding

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