HECT, UBA and WWE domain containing 1 represses cholesterol efflux during CD4 + T cell activation in Sjögren’s syndrome
Introduction: Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by exocrine gland dysfunction, leading to loss of salivary function. Histological analysis of salivary glands from SS patients reveals a high infiltration of immune cells, particularly activated CD4 + T cells. Thus, interventions targeting abnormal activation of CD4 + T cells may provide promising therapeutic strategies for SS. Here, we demonstrate that Hect, uba, and wwe domain containing 1 (HUWE1), a member of the eukaryotic Hect E3 ubiquitin ligase family, plays a critical role in CD4 + T-cell activation and SS pathophysiology. Methods: In the context of HUWE1 inhibition, we investigated the impact of the HUWE1 inhibitor BI8626 and sh-Huwe1 on CD4 + T cells in mice, focusing on the assessment of activation levels, proliferation capacity, and cholesterol abundance. Furthermore, we examined the therapeutic potential of BI8626 in NOD/ShiLtj mice and evaluated its efficacy as a treatment strategy. Results: Inhibition of HUWE1 reduces ABCA1 ubiquitination and promotes cholesterol efflux, decreasing intracellular cholesterol and reducing the expression of phosphorylated ZAP-70, CD25, and other activation markers, culminating in the suppressed proliferation of CD4 + T cells. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of HUWE1 significantly reduces CD4 + T-cell infiltration in the submandibular glands and improves salivary flow rate in NOD/ShiLtj mice. Conclusion: These findings suggest that HUWE1 may regulate CD4 + T-cell activation and SS development by modulating ABCA1-mediated cholesterol efflux and presents a promising target for SS treatment.