Cub domain-containing protein 1 (CDCP1) is a protein that is highly expressed on the surface of many cancer cells. However, its distribution in normal tissues and its potential roles in nontumor cells are poorly understood. We found that CDCP1 is present on both human and mouse retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. CDCP1-KO mice developed attenuated retinal inflammation in a passive model of autoimmune uveitis, with disrupted tight junctions and infiltrating T cells detected in RPE flat mounts from WT but not CDCP1-KO mice during EAU development. Mechanistically, we discovered that CDCP1 on RPE cells was upregulated by IFN-γ in vitro and after EAU induction in vivo. CD6 stimulation induced increased RPE barrier permeability of WT but not CDCP1-knockdown (CDCP1-KD) RPE cells, and activated T cells migrated through WT RPE monolayers more efficiently than the CDCP1-KD RPE monolayers. In addition, CD6 stimulation of WT but not the CDCP1-KD RPE cells induced massive stress fiber formation and focal adhesion disruption to reduce cell barrier tight junctions. These data suggest that CDCP1 on RPE cells interacts with CD6 on T cells to induce RPE cytoskeleton remodeling and focal adhesion disruption, which open up the tight junctions to facilitate T cell infiltration for the development of uveitis.
Lingjun Zhang, Nozha Borjini, Yu Lun, Sweta Parab, Gospel Asonye, Rupesh Singh, Brent A. Bell, Vera L. Bonilha, Andrei Ivanov, David A. Fox, Rachel Caspi, Feng Lin