PIM-2 protein kinase regulates T-cell activity differently than PIM-1 or PIM-3 isoform
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IMAGE: This is Dr. Xue-Zhong Yu, M.D., a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina and senior author on an article published online… view more 

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Credit: Photograph by Sarah Pack. Medical University of South Carolina.

The PIM-2 protein kinase negatively regulates T cell responses in transplantation and tumor immunity, while PIM-1 and PIM-3 are positive regulators, report Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) investigators in an article published online on May 21, 2018 by The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI). Blocking PIM-2 in allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) dramatically accelerated graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). In adoptive immunotherapy with autologous T cells, silencing PIM-2 on T cells produced robust tumor immunity, highlighting the importance of PIM-specific inhibition.

The PIM family of protein kinases contains three isoforms, PIM-1, PIM-2, and PIM-3, with very similar structures. Because they are known to affect cell survival and proliferation, the group is considered a promising therapeutic target in cancer. Additionally, pan-PIM inhibition (blocking all three isoforms) is often used for cancer therapy.

Because the isoforms are so similar, the assumption has been that they function in similar ways. However, in the JCI article, a team of MUSC researchers led by Xue-Zhong Yu, M.D.,

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