The following is a description of a study from one of the many researchers that our organization has funded.

Role of AHNAK in calcium signaling in T lymphocytes

Koichi Kobayashi, M.D., Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut
The most recently developed treatments for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus are based on regulation of an uncontrolled immune system by immunosuppressive drugs. However, these drugs are often toxic with undesirable side effects. The development of more advanced drugs, with strong immunosuppression, low toxicity and fewer side effects is necessary.

Many immunosuppressive drugs like Cyclosporine A or FK506 (tacrolimus) affect calcium signaling in T lymphocytes. Although there have been many efforts to reveal the mechanism of calcium signaling in T lymphocytes, the function of calcium channels on T cell membranes, which transport calcium into the cell, is poorly understood. Dr. Kobayashi’s lab recently found that a large molecule, called AHNAK, is interacting with calcium channels in T lymphocytes and is required for normal calcium signaling. Dr. Kobayashi’s team will reveal the mechanism of calcium regulation by AHNAK using a mouse model which is lacking the AHNAK gene. These studies should significantly contribute to the understanding of calcium signaling in T cells, which is critical to develop more effective therapies for autoimmune diseases.

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