CD95 ligand (CD95L) is expressed by immune cells and triggers apoptotic death. Metalloprotease-cleaved CD95L (cl-CD95L) is released into the bloodstream but does not trigger apoptotic signaling. Hence, the pathophysiological role of cl-CD95L remains unclear. We observed that skin-derived endothelial cells from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients expressed CD95L and that after cleavage, cl-CD95L promoted T helper 17 (Th17) lymphocyte transmigration across the endothelial barrier at the expense of T regulatory cells. T cell migration relied on a direct interaction between the CD95 domain called calcium-inducing domain (CID) and the Src homology 3 domain of phospholipase Cγ1. Th17 cells stimulated with cl-CD95L produced sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), which promoted endothelial transmigration by activating the S1P receptor 3. We generated a cell-penetrating CID peptide that prevented Th17 cell transmigration and alleviated clinical symptoms in lupus mice. Therefore, neutralizing the CD95 non-apoptotic signaling pathway could be an attractive therapeutic approach for SLE treatment.
Cleaved CD95L (cl-CD95L) does not trigger apoptosis, and its pathophysiological role remains unclear. Legembre and colleagues demonstrate that CD95L is expressed in SLE patient blood vessels and that after cleavage, cl-CD95L recruits Th17 cells to inflamed organs. In lupus-prone mice, injection of a molecule blocking cl-CD95L function alleviates signs of disease.