C-Rel controls multiple discrete steps in the thymic development of Foxp3+ CD4 regulatory T cells.
ABSTRACT: The development of natural Foxp3(+) CD4 regulatory T cells (nTregs) proceeds via two steps that involve the initial antigen dependent generation of CD25(+)GITR(hi)Foxp3(-)CD4(+) nTreg precursors followed by the cytokine induction of Foxp3. Using mutant mouse models that lack c-Rel, the critical NF-?B transcription factor required for nTreg differentiation, we establish that c-Rel regulates both of these developmental steps. c-Rel controls the generation of nTreg precursors via a haplo-insufficient mechanism, indicating that this step is highly sensitive to c-Rel levels. However, maintenance of c-Rel in an inactive state in nTreg precursors demonstrates that it is not required for a constitutive function in these cells. While the subsequent IL-2 induction of Foxp3 in nTreg precursors requires c-Rel, this developmental transition does not coincide with the nuclear expression of c-Rel. Collectively, our results support a model of nTreg differentiation in which c-Rel generates a permissive state for foxp3 transcription during the development of nTreg precursors that influences the subsequent IL-2 dependent induction of Foxp3 without a need for c-Rel reactivation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In humans and mice naturally occurring CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (nTregs) are a thymus-derived subset of T cells, crucial for the maintenance of peripheral tolerance by controlling not only potentially autoreactive T cells but virtually all cells of the adaptive and innate immune system. Recent work using Dicer-deficient mice irrevocably demonstrated the importance of miRNAs for nTreg cell-mediated tolerance. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: DNA-Microarray analyses of human as well as murine conventional CD4(+) Th cells and nTregs revealed a strong up-regulation of mature miR-155 (microRNA-155) upon activation in both populations. Studying miR-155 expression in FoxP3-deficient scurfy mice and performing FoxP3 ChIP-Seq experiments using activated human T lymphocytes, we show that the expression and maturation of miR-155 seem to be not necessarily regulated by FoxP3. In order to address the functional relevance of elevated miR-155 levels, we transfected miR-155 inhibitors or mature miR-155 RNAs into freshly-isolated human and mouse primary CD4(+) Th cells and nTregs and investigated the resulting phenotype in nTreg suppression assays. Whereas miR-155 inhibition in conventional CD4(+) Th cells strengthened nTreg cell-mediated suppression, overexpression of mature miR-155 rendered these cells unresponsive to nTreg cell-mediated suppression. CONCLUSION: Investigation of FoxP3 downstream targets, certainly of bound and regulated miRNAs revealed the associated function between the master regulator FoxP3 and miRNAs as regulators itself. miR-155 is shown to be crucially involved in nTreg cell mediated tolerance by regulating the susceptibility of conventional human as well as murine CD4(+) Th cells to nTreg cell-mediated suppression.
Project description:Thymus-derived natural Foxp3+ CD4+ regulatory T cells (nTregs) play a key role in maintaining immune tolerance and preventing autoimmune disease. Several studies indicate that dendritic cells (DCs) are critically involved in the maintenance and proliferation of nTregs. However, the mechanisms how DCs manage to keep the peripheral pool at constant levels remain poorly understood. Here, we describe that the NF-?B/Rel family transcription factor RelB controls the frequencies of steady-state migratory DCs (ssmDCs) in peripheral lymph nodes and their numbers control peripheral nTreg homeostasis. DC-specific RelB depletion was investigated in CD11c-Cre?×?RelBfl/fl mice (RelBDCko), which showed normal frequencies of resident DCs in lymph nodes and spleen while the subsets of CD103- Langerin- dermal DCs (dDCs) and Langerhans cells but not CD103+ Langerin+ dDC of the ssmDCs in skin-draining lymph nodes were increased. Enhanced frequencies and proliferation rates were also observed for nTregs and a small population of CD4+ CD44high CD25low memory-like T cells (Tml). Interestingly, only the Tml but not DCs showed an increase in IL-2-producing capacity in lymph nodes of RelBDCko mice. Blocking of IL-2 in vivo reduced the frequency of nTregs but increased the Tml frequencies, followed by a recovery of nTregs. Taken together, by employing RelBDCko mice with increased frequencies of ssmDCs our data indicate a critical role for specific ssmDC subsets for the peripheral nTreg and IL-2+ Tml frequencies during homeostasis.
Project description:The relationship between the TCR repertoires of natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) and conventional CD4(+) T cells (Tconv) capable of responding to the same antigenic epitope is unknown. In this study, we used TCR?-chain transgenic mice to generate polyclonal nTreg and Tconv populations specific for a foreign Ag. CD4(+) T cells from immunized 3.L2?(+/-) TCR?(+/-) Foxp3(EGFP) mice were restimulated in culture to yield nTregs (EGFP(+)) and Tconv (EGFP(-)) defined by their antigenic reactivity. Relative to Tconv, nTreg expansion was delayed, although a higher proportion of viable nTregs had divided after 72 h. Spectratype analysis revealed that both the nTreg and Tconv responses were different and characterized by skewed distributions of CDR3 lengths. CDR3 sequences from nTregs displayed a divergent pattern of J? usage, minimal CDR3 overlap (3.4%), and less diversity than did CDR3 sequences derived from Tconv. These data indicate that foreign Ag-specific nTregs and Tconv are clonally distinct and that foreign Ag-specific nTreg populations are constrained by a limited TCR repertoire.
Project description:The control of peripheral immune responses by FOXP3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells is essential for immune tolerance. However, at any given time, Treg frequencies in whole blood can vary more than fivefold between individuals. An understanding of factors that influence Treg numbers and migration within and between individuals would be a powerful tool for cellular therapies that utilize the immunomodulatory properties of Tregs to control pathology associated with inflammation. We sought to understand how season could influence Treg numbers and phenotype by monitoring the proportion of natural thymus-derived Tregs (nTregs) defined as (CD3+CD4+CD25+FOXP3+CD127-/low ) cells as a proportion of CD4+ T cells and compared these to all FOXP3+ Tregs (allTregs, CD3+CD25+FOXP3+CD127-/low ). We were able to determine changes within individuals during 1 year suggesting an influence of season on nTreg frequencies. We found that, between individuals at any given time, nTreg/CD4+ T cells ranged from 1.8% in February to 8.8% in the summer where median nTreg/CD4 in January and February was 2.4% (range 3.75-1.76) and in July and August was 4.5% (range 8.81-3.17) p = 0.025. Importantly we were able to monitor individual nTreg frequencies throughout the year in donors that started the year with high or low nTregs. Some nTreg variation could be attributed to vitamin D status where normal linear regression estimated that an absolute increase in nTreg/CD4+ by 0.11% could be expected with 10 nmol increase in serum 25 (OH) vitamin D3 (p = 0.005, 95% CI: 0.03-0.19). We assessed migration markers on Tregs for the skin and/or gut. Here cutaneous lymphocyte associated antigen (CLA+) expression on CD25+FOXP3+CD4+/CD4+ was compared with the same population expressing the gut associated integrin, ?7. Gut tropic CD25+FOXP3+?7+Tregs/CD4+ had similar dynamics to nTreg/CD4+. Conversely, CD25+FOXP3+CLA+Tregs/CD4+ showed no association with vitamin D status. Important for cellular therapies requiring isolation of Tregs, the absolute number of ?7+CD4+CD25+FOXP3+Tregs was positively associated with 25(OH)vitamin D3 (R 2 = 0.0208, r = 0.184, p = 0.021) whereas the absolute numbers of CLA+CD4+CD25+FOXP3+Tregs in the periphery were not influenced by vitamin D status. These baseline observations provide new opportunities to utilize seasonal variables that influence Treg numbers and their migratory potential in patients or donors.
Project description:We showed previously that nonmyeloablative total lymphoid irradiation/rabbit anti-thymocyte serum (TLI/ATS) conditioning facilitates potent donor-recipient immune tolerance following bone marrow transplantation (BMT) across MHC barriers via recipient invariant NKT (iNKT) cell-derived IL-4-dependent expansion of donor Foxp3(+) naturally occurring regulatory T cells (nTregs). In this study, we report a more specific mechanism. Wild-type (WT) BALB/c (H-2(d)) hosts were administered TLI/ATS and BMT from WT or STAT6(-/-) C57BL/6 (H-2(b)) donors. Following STAT6(-/-) BMT, donor nTregs demonstrated no loss of proliferation in vivo, indicating that an IL-4-responsive population in the recipient, rather than the donor, drives donor nTreg proliferation. In graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) target organs, three recipient CD11b(+) cell subsets (Gr-1(high)CD11c(-), Gr-1(int)CD11c(-), and Gr-1(low)CD11c(+)) were enriched early after TLI/ATS + BMT versus total body irradiation/ATS + BMT. Gr-1(low)CD11c(+) cells induced potent H-2K(b+)CD4(+)Foxp3(+) nTreg proliferation in vitro in 72-h MLRs. Gr-1(low)CD11c(+) cells were reduced significantly in STAT6(-/-) and iNKT cell-deficient J?18(-/-) BALB/c recipients after TLI/ATS + BMT. Depletion of CD11b(+) cells resulted in severe acute GVHD, and adoptive transfer of WT Gr-1(low)CD11c(+) cells to J?18(-/-) BALB/c recipients of TLI/ATS + BMT restored day-6 donor Foxp3(+) nTreg proliferation and protection from CD8 effector T cell-mediated GVHD. Blockade of programmed death ligand 1 and 2, but not CD40, TGF-? signaling, arginase 1, or iNOS, inhibited nTreg proliferation in cocultures of recipient-derived Gr-1(low)CD11c(+) cells with donor nTregs. Through iNKT-dependent Th2 polarization, myeloid-derived immunomodulatory dendritic cells are expanded after nonmyeloablative TLI/ATS conditioning and allogeneic BMT, induce PD-1 ligand-dependent donor nTreg proliferation, and maintain potent graft-versus-host immune tolerance.
Project description:nTregs prevent autoimmunity and modulate immune and inflammatory responses to foreign antigens. CD4(+)Foxp3(+) nTregs from DO11.10 mice were expanded ex vivo, and their effectiveness in suppressing the development of lung inflammatory responses, elicited by differentiated CD4(+) T cells following antigen inhalation, was examined. Effector DO11.10 CD4(+) Th2 cells, when adoptively transferred into BALB/c mice that subsequently inhaled OVA, elicited a pronounced pulmonary, eosinophilic inflammation. Surprisingly, the cotransfer of expanded nTregs failed to suppress the Th2-mediated airway inflammation. Nevertheless, expanded OVA-specific CD4(+)Foxp3(+) nTregs were highly effective at inhibiting the polarization of naïve CD4(+) T cells into a Th2 phenotype. This suppression was reversed by an antibody to GITR but was not affected by the presence of the soluble OX40L. Further analysis revealed that although nTregs also failed to inhibit the lung neutrophilic inflammation induced by effector CD4(+) Th1 cells, they markedly suppressed pulmonary inflammation elicited by CD4(+) Th17 cells but not AHR. The suppression of the Th17-mediated response was evident from a striking reduction in the proportion of OVA-specific T cells expressing IL-17 and the numbers of neutrophils present in the airways of Th17 recipient mice. Collectively, these results demonstrate that expanded nTregs clearly limit the Th2 polarization process and that Th17-mediated inflammatory responses are particularly prone to the immunoregulatory properties of nTregs. These findings thus indicate that expanded nTregs are restrictive in their ability to suppress airway inflammatory processes and AHR.
Project description:Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) occurs in 40% to 60% of recipients of partially matched umbilical cord blood transplantation (UCBT). In a phase I study, adoptive transfer of expanded CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) resulted in a reduced incidence of grade II-IV acute GVHD. To investigate potential mechanisms responsible for the reduced GVHD risk, we analyzed peripheral blood mononuclear cell mRNA expression of a tolerance gene set previously identified in operation- tolerant kidney transplant recipients, comparing healthy controls and patients who received nTregs and those who did not receive nTregs with and without experiencing GVHD. Samples from patients receiving nTregs regardless of GVHD status showed increased expression of Foxp3 expression, as well as B cell-related tolerance marker. This was correlated with early B cell recovery, predominately of naïve B cells, and nearly normal T cell reconstitution. CD8(+) T cells showed reduced signs of activation (HLA-DR(+) expression) compared with conventionally treated patients developing GVHD. In contrast, patients with GVHD had significantly increased TLR5 mRNA expression, whereas nTreg-treated patients without GVHD had reduced TLR5 mRNA expression. We identified Lin(-)HLADR(-)CD33(+)CD16(+) cells and CD14(++)CD16(-) monocytes as the main TLR5 producers, especially in samples of conventionally treated patients developing GVHD. Taken together, these data reveal interesting similarities and differences between tolerant organ and nTreg-treated hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients.
Project description:FOXP3+ regulatory T cell (Treg) based cellular therapies represent promising therapeutic options in autoimmunity, allergy, transplantation and prevention of Graft Versus Host (GVH) Disease. Among human FOXP3-expressing CD4+T cells, only the CD45RA+ naïve Treg (nTreg) subset is suitable for in vitro expansion. However, FoxP3 expression decays in cells using currently described culture protocols. Rapamycin alone was not able to prevent FOXP3 loss in nTregs cells, as only a half of them maintained FOXP3 expression after 14 days of culture. In contrast we report a novel combined drug regimen that can drastically stabilize FOXP3 expression in cultured Tregs. IL-2, rapamycin, histone deacetylase and DNA methyltransferase inhibitors act in synergy to allow expansion of human regulatory T cells with sustained high expression of FOXP3 and CD15s with potent suppressive capacities in vitro and control of murine xeno-GVH reactions. Of note, an additional subsequent infusion of expanded nTreg cells did not improve survival of mice. Combination of IL-2, rapamycin, histone deacetylase and DNA methyltransferase inhibitors is optimal for the expansion in vitro of pure effective nTreg maintaining high levels of FOXP3 for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:The low number of natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) in the circulation specific for a particular Ag and concerns about the bystander suppressive capacity of expanded nTregs presents a major clinical challenge for nTreg-based therapeutic treatment of autoimmune diseases. In the current study, we demonstrate that naive CD4+CD25-Foxp3- T cells specific for the myelin proteolipid protein (PLP)139-151 peptide can be converted into CD25+Foxp3+ induced Treg cells (iTregs) when stimulated in the presence of TGF-beta, retinoic acid, and IL-2. These PLP139-151-specific iTregs (139-iTregs) have a phenotype similar to nTregs, but additionally express an intermediate level of CD62L and a high level of CD103. Upon transfer into SJL/J mice, 139-iTregs undergo Ag-driven proliferation and are effective at suppressing induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis induced by the cognate PLP139-151 peptide, but not PLP178-191 or a mixture of the two peptides. Furthermore, 139-iTregs inhibit delayed-type hypersensitivity responses to PLP139-151, but not PLP178-191, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)35-55, or OVA323-339 in mice primed with a mixture of PLP139-151 and the other respective peptides. Additionally, 139-iTregs suppress the proliferation and activation of PLP139-151-, but not MOG35-55-specific CD4+ T cells in SJL/B6 F1 mice primed with a combination of PLP139-151 and MOG35-55. These findings suggest that Ag-specific iTregs are amplified in vivo when exposed to cognate Ag under inflammatory conditions, and these activated iTregs suppress CD4+ responder T cells in an Ag-specific manner.
Project description:Adoptive transfer of thymus-derived natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) effectively suppresses disease in murine models of autoimmunity and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). TGFß induces Foxp3 expression and suppressive function in stimulated murine CD4+25- T cells, and these induced Treg (iTregs), like nTreg, suppress auto- and allo-reactivity in vivo. However, while TGFß induces Foxp3 expression in stimulated human T cells, the expanded cells lack suppressor cell function. Here we show that Rapamycin (Rapa) enhances TGFß-dependent Foxp3 expression and induces a potent suppressor function in naive (CD4+ 25-45RA+) T cells. Rapa/TGFß iTregs are anergic, express CD25 at levels higher than expanded nTregs and few cells secrete IL-2, IFN? or IL-17 even after PMA and Ionomycin stimulation in vitro. Unlike other published methods of inducing Treg function, Rapa/TGFß induces suppressive function even in the presence of memory CD4+ T cells. A single apheresis unit of blood yields an average ~240 × 10? (range ~ 70-560 × 10?) iTregs from CD4+25- T cells in ? 2 weeks of culture. Most importantly, Rapa/TGFß iTregs suppress disease in a xenogeneic model of GVHD. This study opens the door for iTreg cellular therapy for human diseases.