Mbd2 promotes Foxp3 demethylation and T-regulatory cell function
ABSTRACT: The proposed use of Foxp3+ T-regulatory (Treg) cells as potential cellular therapy in patients with autoimmune diseases, or post-hemopoietic stem cell or organ transplantation, requires a sound understanding of the transcriptional regulation of Foxp3 expression. Conserved CpG dinucleotides in the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) upstream of Foxp3 are demethylated only in stable, thymic-derived Foxp3+ Tregs. Since methyl-binding domain (Mbd) proteins recruit histone-modifying and chromatin-remodeling complexes to methylated sites, we tested whether targeting of Mbd2 might promote demethylation of Foxp3 and thereby promote Treg numbers or function. Surprisingly, while ChIP analysis showed Mbd2 binding to the Foxp3-associated TSDR site in Tregs, Mbd2 targeting by homologous recombination or siRNA decreased Treg numbers and impaired Treg suppressive function in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we found complete TSDR demethylation in WT Tregs but >75% methylation in Mbd2-/- Tregs, whereas re-introduction of Mbd2 into Mbd2-null Tregs restored TSDR demethylation, Foxp3 gene expression and Treg suppressive function. Lastly, Mbd2-/- Tregs had markedly binding of the DNA demethylase enzyme, Tet2, in the TSDR region. These data show that Mbd2 has a key role in promoting TSDR demethylation, Foxp3 expression and Treg suppressive function. RNA from three independent samples from magnetically separated CD4+CD25+ Treg of MBD2–/– mice, compared to wild type control (all Balb/c background).
Project description:The role of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) in operational tolerance remains elusive, as initial results revealed an increased frequency of this subset in tolerant patients but no functional differences compared with immunosuppressed recipients. In addition, recent studies of regulatory B cells strongly suggest that Tregs may not have a central role in kidney transplantation tolerance. However, recent investigations of the crucial role of Foxp3 demethylation in Treg function and the possibility of identifying distinct Foxp3 T cell subsets prompted us to more thoroughly characterize Tregs in operationally tolerant patients. Thus, we studied the level of demethylation of the Foxp3 Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) in circulating CD4(+) T cells and analyzed Treg subset frequency in tolerant patients, healthy volunteers, patients with stable graft function under immunosuppression, and chronically rejecting recipients. We observed a higher proportion of CD4(+) T cells with demethylated Foxp3 and a specific expansion of CD4(+) CD45RA(-) Foxp3(hi) memory Tregs exclusively in tolerant patients. The memory Tregs of tolerant recipients exhibited increased Foxp3 TSDR demethylation, expressed higher levels of CD39 and glucocorticoid-induced TNF-related receptor, and harbored greater suppressive properties than memory Tregs from patients with stable graft function. Taken together, our data demonstrate that operationally tolerant patients mobilize an array of potentially suppressive cells, including not only regulatory B cells but also Tregs. Our results also indicate that tolerant patients have potent CD4(+)CD45RA(-) Foxp3(hi) memory Tregs with a specific Foxp3 TSDR demethylation pattern, which may contribute to the maintenance of graft tolerance.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) constitute an attractive therapeutic target given their essential role in controlling autoimmunity. However, recent animal studies provide evidence for functional heterogeneity and lineage plasticity within the Treg compartment. To understand better the plasticity of human Tregs in the context of type 1 diabetes, we characterized an IFN-?-competent subset of human CD4(+)CD127(lo/-)CD25(+) Tregs. We measured the frequency of Tregs in the peripheral blood of patients with type 1 diabetes by epigenetic analysis of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) and the frequency of the IFN-?(+) subset by flow cytometry. Purified IFN-?(+) Tregs were assessed for suppressive function, degree of TSDR demethylation, and expression of Treg lineage markers FOXP3 and Helios. The frequency of Tregs in peripheral blood was comparable but the FOXP3(+)IFN-?(+) fraction was significantly increased in patients with type 1 diabetes compared to healthy controls. Purified IFN-?(+) Tregs expressed FOXP3 and possessed suppressive activity but lacked Helios expression and were predominately methylated at the TSDR, characteristics of an adaptive Treg. Naive Tregs were capable of upregulating expression of Th1-associated T-bet, CXCR3, and IFN-? in response to IL-12. Notably, naive, thymic-derived natural Tregs also demonstrated the capacity for Th1 differentiation without concomitant loss of Helios expression or TSDR demethylation.
Project description:The forkhead-box protein P3 (Foxp3) is a key transcription factor for the development and suppressive activity of regulatory T cells (Tregs), a T cell subset critically involved in the maintenance of self-tolerance and prevention of over-shooting immune responses. However, the transcriptional regulation of Foxp3 expression remains incompletely understood. We have previously shown that epigenetic modifications in the CpG-rich Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) in the Foxp3 locus are associated with stable Foxp3 expression. We now demonstrate that the methylation state of the CpG motifs within the TSDR controls its transcriptional activity rather than a Treg-specific transcription factor network. By systematically mutating every CpG motif within the TSDR, we could identify four CpG motifs, which are critically determining the transcriptional activity of the TSDR and which serve as binding sites for essential transcription factors, such as CREB/ATF and NF-?B, which have previously been shown to bind to this element. The transcription factor Ets-1 was here identified as an additional molecular player that specifically binds to the TSDR in a demethylation-dependent manner in vitro. Disruption of the Ets-1 binding sites within the TSDR drastically reduced its transcriptional enhancer activity. In addition, we found Ets-1 bound to the demethylated TSDR in ex vivo isolated Tregs, but not to the methylated TSDR in conventional CD4(+) T cells. We therefore propose that Ets-1 is part of a larger protein complex, which binds to the TSDR only in its demethylated state, thereby restricting stable Foxp3 expression to the Treg lineage.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) obtain immunosuppressive capacity by the upregulation of forkhead box protein 3 (Foxp3), and persistent expression of this transcription factor is required to maintain their immune regulatory function and ensure immune homeostasis. Stable Foxp3 expression is achieved through epigenetic modification of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR), an evolutionarily conserved non-coding element within the Foxp3 gene locus. Here, we present molecular data suggesting that TSDR enhancer activity is restricted to T cells and cannot be induced in other immune cells such as macrophages or B cells. Since NF-?B signaling has been reported to be instrumental to induce Foxp3 expression during Treg development, we analyzed how NF-?B factors are involved in the molecular regulation of the TSDR. Unexpectedly, we neither observed transcriptional activity of a previously postulated NF-?B binding site within the TSDR nor did the entire TSDR show any transcriptional responsiveness to NF-?B activation at all. Finally, the NF-?B subunit c-Rel revealed to be dispensable for epigenetic imprinting of sustained Foxp3 expression by TSDR demethylation. In conclusion, we show that NF-?B signaling is not substantially involved in TSDR-mediated stabilization of Foxp3 expression in Tregs.
Project description:Adoptive transfer of forkhead box protein (FOX)3 regulatory T (Treg) cells offers a promising strategy to reduce damage to an allograft by the recipient's immune system. Identification of cell surface markers sufficient to purify Treg cells expanded ex vivo to remove cellular contaminants requires optimization. Furthermore, the expanded Treg must be able to survive, expand, and suppress in allograft recipients exposed to immunosuppressants, such as tacrolimus (TAC). Reduced CD127 expression enhances identification of Treg in the human CD4CD25 population. CD45RA expression identifies naive CD4CD25 Treg with an enhanced stability of Treg phenotype.We combine an analysis of CD45RA, CD25, and CD127 expression to identify subpopulations of CD4CD127CD25 cells. Regulatory T cells were sorted according to expression of CD25 and CD45RA and expanded in the presence of a physiological relevant concentration of TAC. Regulatory T cell-specific demethylation region (TSDR) demethylation, FOXP3 expression, and suppression were analyzed.CD4CD127CD25CD45RA Treg cells had a stable TSDR demethylated FOXP3 phenotype after expansion whereas CD4CD127CD25CD45RA Treg cell lost the TSDR demethylated phenotype. CD45RA Treg had a greater capacity to suppress after expansion with TAC.Although CD45RA Treg retained a greater suppressive capacity when expanded with TAC, the marked loss of the TSDR demethylated status highlights the potential for loss of stability of these cells in transplant recipients treated with TAC based immunosuppression. We show that a population of CD4CD127CD45RA Regulatory T cell may offer the best compromise between susceptibility to loss of suppression when exposed to TAC and maintenance of a TSDR demethylated phenotype following in vitro expansion.
Project description:DNA methylation of the Th1 and Th2 cytokine genes is altered during cow's milk allergy (CMA). Forkhead box transcription factor 3 (FoxP3) is essential for the development and function of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and is involved in oral tolerance acquisition. We assessed whether tolerance acquisition in children with IgE-mediated CMA is associated with DNA demethylation of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) of FoxP3.Forty children (aged 3-18 months) were enrolled: 10 children with active IgE-mediated CMA (group 1), 10 children who outgrew CMA after dietary treatment with an extensively hydrolyzed casein formula containing the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (group 2), 10 children who outgrew CMA after treatment with other formulas (group 3), and 10 healthy controls (group 4). FoxP3 TSDR demethylation and expression were measured in mononuclear cells purified from peripheral blood of the four groups of children. FoxP3 TSDR demethylation was significantly lower in children with active IgE-mediated CMA than in either children who outgrew CMA or in healthy children. Formula selection influenced the FoxP3 TSDR demethylation profile. The FoxP3 TSDR demethylation rate and expression level were correlated.Tolerance acquisition in children with IgE-mediated CMA involves epigenetic regulation of the FoxP3 gene. This feature could be a new target for preventive and therapeutic strategies against CMA.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are considered key players in the prevention of allograft rejection in transplanted patients. Belatacept (BLT) is an effective alternative to calcineurin inhibitors that appears to preserve graft survival and function; however, the impact of this drug in the homeostasis of Tregs in transplanted patients remains controversial. Here, we analyzed the phenotype, function, and the epigenetic status of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) in FOXP3 of circulating Tregs from long-term kidney transplant patients under BLT or Cyclosporine A treatment. We found a significant reduction in the proportion of CD4+CD25hiCD127lo/-FOXP3+ T cells in all patients compared to healthy individual (controls). Interestingly, only BLT-treated patients displayed an enrichment of the CD45RA+ "naïve" Tregs, while the expression of Helios, a marker used to identify stable FOXP3+ thymic Tregs remained unaffected. Functional analysis demonstrated that Tregs from transplanted patients displayed a significant reduction in their suppressive capacity compared to Tregs from controls, which is associated with decreased levels of FOXP3 and CD25. Analysis of the methylation status of the FOXP3 gene showed that BLT treatment results in methylation of CpG islands within the TSDR, which could be associated with the impaired Treg suppression function. Our data indicate that analysis of circulating Tregs cannot be used as a marker for assessing tolerance toward the allograft in long-term kidney transplant patients. Trial registration number IM103008.
Project description:The maintenance of FOXP3 expression in CD25(hi) regulatory T cells (Tregs) is crucial to the control of inflammation and essential for successful Treg transfer therapies. Coexpression of CD25 and FOXP3 in combination with a hypomethylated region within the FOXP3 gene, called the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR), is considered the hallmark of stable Tregs. The TSDR is an epigenetic motif that is important for stable FOXP3 expression and is used as a biomarker to measure Treg lineage commitment. In this study, we report that, unlike in peripheral blood, CD4(+) T cell expression of CD25 and FOXP3 is frequently dissociated at the inflamed site in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which led us to question the stability of human Tregs in chronic inflammatory environments. We describe a novel CD4(+)CD127(lo)CD25(hi) human T cell population that exhibits extensive TSDR and promoter demethylation in the absence of stable FOXP3 expression. This population expresses high levels of CTLA-4 and can suppress T conventional cell proliferation in vitro. These data collectively suggest that this population may represent a chronically activated FOXP3(lo) Treg population. We show that these cells have defects in IL-2 signaling and reduced expression of a deubiquitinase important for FOXP3 stability. Clinically, the proportions of these cells within the CD25(hi) T cell subset are increased in patients with the more severe courses of disease. Our study demonstrates, therefore, that hypomethylation at the TSDR can be decoupled from FOXP3 expression in human T cells and that environment-specific breakdown in FOXP3 stability may compromise the resolution of inflammation in juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Project description:In a cross-sectional study, we assessed effects of calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) or rapamycin on T-regulatory (Treg) cells from children with stable liver (n = 53) or kidney (n = 9) allografts several years posttransplant. We analyzed Treg number, phenotype, suppressive function, and methylation at the Treg-specific demethylation region (TSDR) using Tregs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Forty-eight patients received CNI (39 as monotherapy) and 12 patients received rapamycin (9 as monotherapy). Treg numbers diminished over time on either regimen, but reached significance only with CNI (r =-0.424, p = 0.017). CNI levels inversely correlated with Treg number (r =-0.371, p = 0.026), and positively correlated with CD127+ expression by Tregs (r = 0.437, p = 0.023). Patients with CNI levels >3.6 ng/mL had weaker Treg function than those with levels <3.6 ng/mL, whereas rapamycin therapy positively correlated with Treg numbers (r = 0.628, p = 0.029) and their expression of CTLA4 (r = 0.726, p = 0.041). Overall, CTLA4 expression, TSDR demethylation and an absence of CD127 were important for Treg suppressive function. We conclude that rapamycin has beneficial effects on Treg biology, whereas long-term and high dose CNI use may impair Treg number, function and phenotype, potentially acting as a barrier to attaining host hyporesponsiveness to an allograft.
Project description:Regulatory T (Treg) cells mainly develop within the thymus and arise from CD25+Foxp3- (CD25+ TregP) or CD25-Foxp3+ (Foxp3+ TregP) Treg cell precursors resulting in Treg cells harboring distinct transcriptomic profiles and complementary T cell receptor repertoires. The stable and long-term expression of Foxp3 in Treg cells and their stable suppressive phenotype are controlled by the demethylation of Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes including an evolutionarily conserved CpG-rich element within the Foxp3 locus, the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR). Here we analyzed the dynamics of the imprinting of the Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes in thymic Treg cells. We could demonstrate that CD25+Foxp3+ Treg cells show a progressive demethylation of most signature genes during maturation within the thymus. Interestingly, a partial demethylation of several Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes was already observed in Foxp3+ TregP but not in CD25+ TregP. Furthermore, Foxp3+ TregP were very transient in nature and arose at a more mature developmental stage when compared to CD25+ TregP. When the two Treg cell precursors were cultured in presence of IL-2, a factor known to be critical for thymic Treg cell development, we observed a major impact of IL-2 on the demethylation of the TSDR with a more pronounced effect on Foxp3+ TregP. Together, these results suggest that the establishment of the Treg cell-specific hypomethylation pattern is a continuous process throughout thymic Treg cell development and that the two known Treg cell precursors display distinct dynamics for the imprinting of the Treg cell-specific epigenetic signature genes.