Cutting edge: Intrinsic programming of thymic ??T cells for specific peripheral tissue localization.
ABSTRACT: Various innate-like T cell subsets preferentially reside in specific epithelial tissues as the first line of defense. However, mechanisms regulating their tissue-specific development are poorly understood. Using the prototypical skin intraepithelial ??T cells (sIELs) as a model, we show in this study that a TCR-mediated selection plays an important role in promoting acquisition of a specific skin-homing property by fetal thymic sIEL precursors for their epidermal location, and the skin-homing potential is intrinsically programmed even before the selection. In addition, once localized in the skin, the sIEL precursors develop into sIELs without the requirement of further TCR-ligand interaction. These studies reveal that development of the tissue-specific lymphocytes is a hard-wired process that targets them to specific tissues for proper functions.
Project description:Tissue-specific innate-like gammadelta T cells are important components of the immune system critical for the first line of defense, but mechanisms underlying their tissue-specific development are poorly understood. Our study with prototypical skin-specific intraepithelial gammadeltaT lymphocytes (sIELs) found that among different thymic gammadelta T cell subsets fetal thymic precursors of sIELs specifically acquire a unique skin-homing property after positive selection, suggesting an important role of the TCR selection signaling in "programming" them for tissue-specific development. In this study, we identified IL-2-inducible T cell kinase (ITK) as a critical signal molecule regulating the acquirement of the skin-homing property by the fetal thymic sIEL precursors. In ITK knockout mice, the sIEL precursors could not undergo positive selection-associated upregulation of thymus-exiting and skin-homing molecules sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 and CCR10 and accumulated in the thymus. However, the survival and expansion of sIELs in the skin did not require ITK-transduced TCR signaling, whereas its persistent activation impaired sIEL development by inducing apoptosis. These findings provide insights into molecular mechanisms underlying differential requirements of TCR signaling in peripheral localization and maintenance of the tissue-specific T cells.
Project description:CD8?? TCR??+ intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes play a critical role in promoting intestinal homeostasis, although mechanisms controlling their development and peripheral homeostasis remain unclear. In this study, we examined the spatiotemporal role of Bim in the thymic selection of CD8?? precursors and the fate of these cells in the periphery. We found that T cell-specific expression of Bim during early/cortical, but not late/medullary, thymic development controls the agonist selection of CD8?? precursors and limits their private TCR? repertoire. During this process, agonist-selected double-positive cells lose CD4/8 coreceptor expression and masquerade as double-negative (DN) TCR??hi thymocytes. Although these DN thymocytes fail to re-express coreceptors after OP9-DL1 culture, they eventually mature and accumulate in the spleen where TCR and IL-15/STAT5 signaling promotes their conversion to CD8?? cells and their expression of gut-homing receptors. Adoptive transfer of splenic DN cells gives rise to CD8?? cells in the gut, establishing their precursor relationship in vivo. Interestingly, Bim does not restrict the IL-15-driven maturation of CD8?? cells that is critical for intestinal homeostasis. Thus, we found a temporal and tissue-specific role for Bim in limiting thymic agonist selection of CD8?? precursors and their TCR? repertoire, but not in the maintenance of CD8?? intraepithelial lymphocytes in the intestine.
Project description:Thymic dendritic cells (DC) mediate self-tolerance by presenting self-peptides to and depleting autoreactive thymocytes. Despite a significant role in negative selection, the events regulating thymic DC maturation and function under steady-state conditions are poorly understood. We report that cross-talk with thymocytes regulates thymic conventional DC (cDC) numbers, phenotype, and function. In mice lacking TCR-expressing thymocytes, thymic cDC were reduced and exhibited a less mature phenotype. Furthermore, thymic cDC in TCR-transgenic mice lacking cognate Ag expression in the thymus were also immature; notably, however, thymic cDC maturation was re-established by an Ag-specific cognate interaction with CD4+ or CD8+ single-positive thymocytes (SP). Blockade of CD40L during Ag-specific interactions with CD4 SP, but not CD8 SP, limited the effect on cDC maturation. Together, these novel findings demonstrate that homeostatic maturation and function of thymic cDC are regulated by feedback delivered by CD4 SP and CD8 SP via distinct mechanisms during a cognate Ag-specific interaction.
Project description:Recognition of self-antigens is required for regulatory T (Treg) cells to exert dominant tolerance. However, the mechanism by which self-reactive thymocytes are diverted into the Treg cell subset is unclear. To address this question, we looked for the immediate precursors to Treg cells within Foxp3(-)CD4+CD8(-) thymocytes. By using intrathymic transfer, we found that the CD25hi subset is highly enriched in Treg cell precursors. This was supported by tracking of thymocyte development via analysis of T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires in a TCR-beta transgenic model. These Treg cell precursors exist at a developmental stage where they are poised to express Foxp3 without further TCR engagement, requiring only stimulation by interleukin-2 (IL-2) or IL-15. Thus, we propose that the selection of self-reactive thymocytes into the Treg cell subset occurs via an instructive rather than stochastic-selective model whereby TCR signals result in the expression of proximal IL-2 signaling components facilitating cytokine-mediated induction of Foxp3.
Project description:Recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) are peripheral T cells that have most recently completed selection and thymic egress and constitute a population that is phenotypically and functionally distinct from its more mature counterpart. Ag-activated RTEs are less potent effectors than are activated mature T cells, due in part to reduced aerobic glycolysis (correctable by exogenous IL-2), which in turn impacts IFN-? production. Mitochondria serve as nodal regulators of cell function, but their contribution to the unique biology of RTEs is unknown. In this study, we show that activated mouse RTEs have impaired oxidative phosphorylation, even in the presence of exogenous IL-2. This altered respiratory phenotype is the result of decreased CD28 signaling, reduced glutaminase induction, and diminished mitochondrial mass in RTEs relative to mature T cells. These results suggest an uncoupling whereby IL-2 tunes the rate of RTE glycolytic metabolism, whereas the unique profile of RTE mitochondrial metabolism is "hard wired."
Project description:Dermal IL-17-producing ??T cells have a critical role in skin inflammation. However, their development and peripheral regulation have not been fully elucidated. Here we demonstrate that dermal ??T cells develop from the embryonic thymus and undergo homeostatic proliferation after birth with diversified TCR repertoire. V?6T cells are bona fide resident, but precursors of dermal V?4T cells may require extrathymic environment for imprinting skin-homing properties. Thymic V?6T cells are more competitive than V?4 for dermal ??T cell reconstitution and TCR?(-/-) mice reconstituted with V?6 develop psoriasis-like inflammation after IMQ-application. Although both IL-23 and IL-1? promote V?4 and V?6 proliferation, V?4 are the main source of IL-17 production that requires IL-1 signalling. Mice with deficiency of IL-1RI signalling have significantly decreased skin inflammation. These studies reveal a differential developmental requirement and peripheral regulation for dermal V?6 and V?4 ??T cells, implying a new mechanism that may be involved in skin inflammation.
Project description:The αβ T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire on mature T cells is selected in the thymus, but the basis for thymic selection of MHC-restricted TCRs from a randomly generated pre-selection repertoire is not known. Here we perform comparative repertoire sequence analyses of pre-selection and post-selection TCR from multiple MHC-sufficient and MHC-deficient mouse strains, and find that MHC-restricted and MHC-independent TCRs are primarily distinguished by features in their non-germline CDR3 regions, with many pre-selection CDR3 sequences not compatible with MHC-binding. Thymic selection of MHC-independent TCR is largely unconstrained, but the selection of MHC-specific TCR is restricted by both CDR3 length and specific amino acid usage. MHC-restriction disfavors TCR with CDR3 longer than 13 amino acids, limits positively charged and hydrophobic amino acids in CDR3β, and clonally deletes TCRs with cysteines in their CDR3 peptide-binding regions. Together, these MHC-imposed structural constraints form the basis to shape VDJ recombination sequences into MHC-restricted repertoires.
Project description:An alphabeta T-cell response depends on the recognition of antigen plus major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins by its antigen receptor (TCR). The ability of peripheral alphabeta T cells to recognize MHC is at least partly determined by MHC-dependent thymic selection, by which an immature T cell survives only if its TCR can recognize self MHC. This process may allow MHC-reactive TCRs to be selected from a repertoire with completely random and unbiased specificities. However, analysis of thymocytes before positive selection indicated that TCR proteins might have a predetermined ability to bind MHC. Here we show that specific germline-encoded amino acids in the TCR promote 'generic' MHC recognition and control thymic selection. In mice expressing single, rearranged TCR beta-chains, individual mutation of amino acids in the complementarity-determining region (CDR) 2beta to Ala reduced development of the entire TCR repertoire. Altogether, these results show that thymic selection is controlled by germline-encoded MHC contact points in the alphabeta TCR and indicate that the diversity of the peripheral T-cell repertoire is enhanced by this 'built-in' specificity.
Project description:T cell antigen receptor (TCR) triggering determines the fate of immature thymocytes. The affinity of the TCR for its endogenous peptide/MHC ligands serves as a signal for positive or negative selection through mechanisms that are still little understood. We have used a conformation-specific antibody to demonstrate that recognition of TCR ligands that lead to negative selection induces a conformational change in the TCR in situ. In contrast, this conformational change is elicited in only a small percentage of immature thymocytes during positive selection. Using a TUNEL assay, we demonstrate that the conformational change in the TCR is strongly linked to activation of programmed cell death in conditions leading to negative selection. Furthermore, the few conformational change-positive thymocytes detected in conditions that preferably lead to positive selection are also TUNEL-positive. Thus, the conformational change in the TCR may underlie the discrimination of ligands leading to positive and negative selection.
Project description:Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells develop in the thymus and branch off from the maturation pathway of conventional T cell at the DP stage. While different stages of iNKT cellular development have been defined, the actual time that iNKT cell precursors spend at each stage is still unknown.Here we report on maturation dynamics of post-selection DN iNKT cells by injecting wild-type DP(dim) thymocytes into the thymus of TCR?(-/-) mice and using the V?14-J?18 rearrangements as a molecular marker to follow the maturation dynamics of these cells.This study shows that the developmental dynamics of DN iNKT cells in DP(dim) are very rapid and that it takes less than 1 day to down-regulate CD4 and CD8 and become DN. These DN cells are precursors of peripheral DN iNKT cells and appear in the spleen in 1-2 days. Thymic DN iNKT residents are predominantly derived from cells that quickly return from the periphery. The expansion of a very small subset of DN iNKT precursors could also play a small role in this process. These data are an example of measuring T cell maturation in the thymus and show that the maturation dynamics of selected DN iNKT cells fall within the same general time frame as conventional ?? T cells.