Aug 28, 2009

Foxp3-deficient regulatory T cells do not revert into conventional effector CD4+ T cells but constitute a unique cell subset

The Journal of Immunology : Official Journal of the American Association of Immunologists
Michal KuczmaPiotr Kraj


Homeostasis in the immune system is maintained by specialized regulatory CD4(+) T cells (T(reg)) expressing transcription factor Foxp3. According to the current paradigm, high-affinity interactions between TCRs and class II MHC-peptide complexes in thymus "instruct" developing thymocytes to up-regulate Foxp3 and become T(reg) cells. However, the loss or down-regulation of Foxp3 does not disrupt the development of T(reg) cells but abrogates their suppressor function. In this study, we show that Foxp3-deficient T(reg) cells in scurfy mice harboring a null mutation of the Foxp3 gene retained cellular features of T(reg) cells including in vitro anergy, impaired production of inflammatory cytokines, and dependence on exogenous IL-2 for proliferation and homeostatic expansion. Foxp3-deficient T(reg) cells expressed a low level of activation markers, did not expand relative to other CD4(+) T cells, and produced IL-4 and immunomodulatory cytokines IL-10 and TGF-beta when stimulated. Global gene expression profiling revealed significant similarities between T(reg) cells expressing and lacking Foxp3. These results argue that Foxp3 deficiency alone does not convert T(reg) cells into conventional effector CD4(+) T cells but rather these ce...Continue Reading

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