Nuclear receptor Nr4a1 modulates both regulatory T-cell (Treg) differentiation and clonal deletion.
ABSTRACT: Immature thymocytes expressing autoreactive T-cell receptors (TCR) can adopt differing cell fates: clonal deletion by apoptosis or deviation into alternative lineages such as FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells (Treg). We revisited the role of the transcription factor Nr4a1 (Nur77), an immediate-early response gene induced by TCR engagement. Nr4a1KO mice show clear quantitative defects in antigen-induced clonal deletion. The impact of the Nr4a1 deletion is not enhanced by deletion of the proapoptotic factor Bim. In addition, Nr4a1 curtails initial differentiation into the Treg lineage in TCR transgenic mice and in nontransgenic mice. Transcriptional profiling of Nr4a1KO thymocytes under selection conditions reveals that Nr4a1 activates the transcription of several targets, consistent with these diverse actions: (i) Nr4a1 partakes in the induction of Bim after TCR triggering; (ii) perhaps paradoxically, Nr4a1 positively controls several transcripts of the Treg signature, in particular Ikzf2 and Tnfrsf9; (iii) consistent with its prosurvival and metabolic role in the liver, Nr4a1 is also required for the induction by TCR of a coordinated set of enzymes of the glycolytic and Krebs cycle pathways, which we propose may antagonize Treg selection as does activation of mTOR/Akt. Thus, Nr4a1 appears to act as a balancing molecule in fate determination at a critical juncture of T-cell differentiation.
Project description:Positive and negative selection of thymocytes in the thymus are critical for the development of a mature and self-tolerant T-cell repertoire. The proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bim is important for negative selection by inducing apoptosis in thymocytes receiving a strong signal through their antigen receptor. However, in the case of ubiquitous self-antigens (UbA), Bim is not required for the clonal deletion of self-reactive thymocytes, suggesting the existence of nonapoptotic clonal deletion mechanisms. Unlike UbA, clonal deletion to tissue-restricted antigens (TRAs) requires positive selection and CCR7-mediated migration to the medulla. This led us to hypothesize that Bim is required for the latter. To study the role of Bim in clonal deletion to TRA, we constructed bone marrow (BM) chimeras using OT-I Bim-deficient or -sufficient donor bone marrow and recipients that express membrane bound chicken ovalbumin under control of the rat insulin promoter (Rip-mOVA). We found that clonal deletion to TRA was completely abrogated in the absence of Bim and large numbers of mature OT-I CD8 T cells survived in the periphery. Despite the large numbers of autoreactive T cells, the chimeras did not develop diabetes and OT-I Bim-deficient T cells from these chimeras were functionally impaired. Collectively, these data provide unique evidence of a differential, thymocyte-intrinsic, molecular requirement downstream of the T-cell receptor (TCR) for clonal deletion to UbA versus TRA and highlight the profound ability of other tolerance mechanisms to control T-cell autoreactivity in the absence of thymic clonal deletion.
Project description:Abstract <h4>Objective</h4> To define the effect of DOCK8 deficiency on thymic tolerance in mice. <h4>Methods</h4> Thymocytes from wild?type (Dock8+/+) and DOCK8?deficient (Dock8pri/pri) mice were examined by flow cytometry. Some mice had transgenic expression of the BCL2 anti?apoptotic protein in haemopoietic cells. Some mice expressed the transgenic 3A9 T?cell receptor (TCR), which triggers thymocyte deletion in mice also expressing hen egg lysozyme under the insulin promoter. <h4>Results</h4> In Dock8pr/pri mice, the proportion of thymocytes induced to acquire tolerance at the immature CCR7? stage was normal. Deletion of strongly self?reactive CD4+ thymocytes occurred efficiently in Dock8pri/pri mice in a TCR?transgenic model that requires self?antigen transfer from epithelial cells to bone marrow (BM)?derived antigen?presenting cells. Thymic Foxp3+ T?regulatory cells (TREG) and Helios+ Foxp3? TREG precursors were decreased in Dock8pri/pri mice, including when apoptosis was inhibited by BCL2 transgene expression. Dock8pri/pri thymic TREG expressed CD25 and CTLA?4 at normal levels. The results suggest that DOCK8 deficiency does not affect the function of BM?derived antigen?presenting cells in the thymus, the TCR self?reactivity threshold that activates tolerance mechanisms in thymocytes or the apoptotic deletion of these thymocytes. However, DOCK8 is required to prevent a subset of developing TREG cells from undergoing cell death via a mechanism that is distinct from apoptosis. <h4>Conclusion</h4> DOCK8 deficiency diminishes TREG development in the thymus without compromising thymocyte deletion. Deleterious mutations in DOCK8 cause a severe immune deficiency syndrome, but whether thymic self?tolerance mechanisms are affected has been unclear. In this study, we found that DOCK8?deficient mice have normal clonal deletion of self?reactive T cells at two stages of development in the thymus. However, DOCK8 deficiency conferred a T?cell?intrinsic defect in the intrathymic differentiation of Foxp3+ T?regulatory cells.
Project description:Autoreactive CD4(+) CD8(-) (CD4SP) thymocytes can be subjected to deletion when they encounter self-peptide during their development, but they can also undergo selection to become CD4SPFoxp3(+) Treg cells. We have analyzed the relationship between these distinct developmental fates using mice in which signals transmitted by the TCR have been attenuated by mutation of a critical tyrosine residue of the adapter protein SLP-76. In mice containing polyclonal TCR repertoires, the mutation caused increased frequencies of CD4SPFoxp3(+) thymocytes. CD4SP thymocytes expressing TCR V?-chains that are subjected to deletion by endogenous retroviral superantigens were also present at increased frequencies, particularly among Foxp3(+) thymocytes. In transgenic mice in which CD4SP thymocytes expressing an autoreactive TCR undergo both deletion and Treg-cell formation in response to a defined self-peptide, SLP-76 mutation abrogated deletion of autoreactive CD4SP thymocytes. Notably, Foxp3(+) Treg-cell formation still occurred, albeit with a reduced efficiency, and the mutation was also associated with decreased Nur77 expression by the autoreactive CD4SP thymocytes. These studies provide evidence that the strength of the TCR signal can play a direct role in directing the extent of both thymocyte deletion and Treg-cell differentiation, and suggest that distinct TCR signaling thresholds and/or pathways can promote CD4SP thymocyte deletion versus Treg-cell formation.
Project description:During thymic negative selection, autoreactive thymocytes carrying T cell receptor (TCR) with overtly strong affinity to self-MHC/self-peptide are removed by Bim-dependent apoptosis, but how Bim is specifically regulated to link TCR activation and apoptosis induction is unclear. Here we identify a murine T cell-specific genomic enhancer EBAB (Bub1-Acoxl-Bim), whose deletion leads to accumulation of thymocytes expressing high affinity TCRs. Consistently, EBAB knockout mice have defective negative selection and fail to delete autoreactive thymocytes in various settings, with this defect accompanied by reduced Bim expression and apoptosis induction. By contrast, EBAB is dispensable for maintaining peripheral T cell homeostasis via Bim-dependent pathways. Our data thus implicate EBAB as an important, developmental stage-specific regulator of Bim expression and apoptosis induction to enforce thymic negative selection and suppress autoimmunity. Our study unravels a part of genomic enhancer codes that underlie complex and context-dependent gene regulation in TCR signaling.
Project description:A complete understanding of negative selection has been elusive due to the rapid apoptosis and clearance of thymocytes in vivo. We report a TCR transgenic model in which expression of the TCR during differentiation occurs only after V(D)J-like recombination. TCR expression from this transgene closely mimics expression of the endogenous TCRalpha locus allowing for development that is similar to wild type thymocytes. This model allowed us to characterize the phenotypic changes that occurred after TCR-mediated signaling in self-reactive thymocytes prior to their deletion in a highly physiological setting. Self-reactive thymocytes were identified as being immature, activated and CD4(lo)CD8(lo). These cells had upregulated markers of negative selection and were apoptotic. Elimination of Bim reduced the apoptosis of self-reactive thymocytes, but it did not rescue their differentiation and the cells remained at the immature CD4(lo)CD8(lo) stage of development. These cells upregulate Nur77 and do not contribute to the peripheral T cell repertoire in vivo. Remarkably, development past the CD4(lo)CD8(lo) stage was possible once the cells were removed from the negatively selecting thymic environment. In vitro development of these cells occurred despite their maintenance of high intracellular levels of Nur77. Therefore, in vivo, negatively selected Bim-deficient thymocytes are eliminated after prolonged developmental arrest via a Bim-independent pathway that is dependent on the thymic microenvironment. These data newly reveal a layering of immediate, Bim-dependent, and delayed Bim-independent pathways that both contribute to elimination of self-reactive thymocytes in vivo.
Project description:Clonal deletion of autoreactive thymocytes is important for self-tolerance, but the intrathymic signals that induce clonal deletion have not been clearly identified. We now report that clonal deletion during negative selection required CD28-mediated costimulation of autoreactive thymocytes at the CD4(+)CD8(lo) intermediate stage of differentiation. Autoreactive thymocytes were prevented from undergoing clonal deletion by either a lack of CD28 costimulation or transgenic overexpression of the antiapoptotic factors Bcl-2 or Mcl-1, with surviving thymocytes differentiating into anergic CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative thymocytes positive for the T cell antigen receptor ?? subtype (TCR??) that 'preferentially' migrated to the intestine, where they re-expressed CD8? and were sequestered as CD8??(+) intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). Our study identifies costimulation by CD28 as the intrathymic signal required for clonal deletion and identifies CD8??(+) IELs as the developmental fate of autoreactive thymocytes that survive negative selection.
Project description:CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells are generated during thymocyte development and play a crucial role in preventing the immune system from attacking the body's cells and tissues. However, how the formation of these cells is directed by T-cell receptor (TCR) recognition of self-peptide:major histocompatibility complex (MHC) ligands remains poorly understood. We show that an agonist self-peptide with which a TCR is strongly reactive can induce a combination of thymocyte deletion and CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cell formation in vivo. A weakly cross-reactive partial agonist self-peptide could similarly induce thymocyte deletion, but failed to induce Treg cell formation. These studies indicate that CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cell formation can require highly stringent recognition of an agonist self-peptide by developing thymocytes. They also refine the "avidity" model of thymocyte selection by demonstrating that the quality of the signal mediated by agonist self-peptides, rather than the overall intensity of TCR signaling, can be a critical factor in directing autoreactive thymocytes to undergo CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cell formation and/or deletion during their development.
Project description:The NR4A nuclear receptor family member Nr4a1 is strongly induced in thymocytes undergoing selection, and has been shown to control the development of Treg cells; however the role of Nr4a1 in CD8(+) T cells remains undefined. Here we report a novel role for Nr4a1 in regulating the development and frequency of CD8(+) T cells through direct transcriptional control of Runx3. We discovered that Nr4a1 recruits the corepressor, CoREST to suppress Runx3 expression in CD8(+) T cells. Loss of Nr4a1 results in increased Runx3 expression in thymocytes which consequently causes a 2-fold increase in the frequency and total number of intrathymic and peripheral CD8(+) T cells. Our findings establish Nr4a1 as a novel and critical player in the regulation of CD8 T cell development through the direct suppression of Runx3.
Project description:TP53 protects cells from transformation by responding to stresses including aneuploidy and DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). TP53 induces apoptosis of lymphocytes with persistent DSBs at antigen receptor loci and other genomic loci to prevent these lesions from generating oncogenic translocations. Despite this critical function of TP53, germline Tp53(-/-) mice succumb to immature T-cell (thymic) lymphomas that exhibit aneuploidy and lack clonal translocations. However, Tp53(-/-) mice occasionally develop B lineage lymphomas and Tp53 deletion in pro-B cells causes lymphomas with oncogenic immunoglobulin (Ig) locus translocations. In addition, human lymphoid cancers with somatic TP53 inactivation often harbor oncogenic IG or T-cell receptor (TCR) locus translocations. To determine whether somatic Tp53 inactivation unmasks translocations or alters the frequency of B lineage tumors in mice, we generated and analyzed mice with conditional Tp53 deletion initiating in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or in lineage-committed thymocytes. Median tumor-free survival of each strain was similar to the lifespan of Tp53(-/-) mice. Mice with HSC deletion of Tp53 predominantly succumbed to thymic lymphomas with clonal translocations not involving Tcr loci; however, these mice occasionally developed mature B-cell lymphomas that harbored clonal Ig translocations. Deletion of Tp53 in thymocytes caused thymic lymphomas with aneuploidy and/or clonal translocations, including oncogenic Tcr locus translocations. Our data demonstrate that the developmental stage of Tp53 inactivation affects karyotypes of lymphoid malignancies in mice where somatic deletion of Tp53 initiating in thymocytes is sufficient to cause thymic lymphomas with oncogenic translocations.
Project description:The thymic medulla is generally held to be a specialized environment for negative selection. However, many self-reactive thymocytes first encounter ubiquitous self-antigens in the cortex. Cortical epithelial cells are vital for positive selection, but whether such cells can also promote negative selection is controversial. We used the HY(cd4) model, where T cell receptor for antigen (TCR) expression is appropriately timed and a ubiquitous self-antigen drives clonal deletion in male mice. We demonstrated unambiguously that this deletion event occurs in the thymic cortex. However, the kinetics in vivo indicated that apoptosis was activated asynchronously relative to TCR activation. We found that radioresistant antigen-presenting cells and, specifically, cortical epithelial cells do not efficiently induce apoptosis, although they do cause TCR activation. Rather, thymocytes undergoing clonal deletion were preferentially associated with rare CD11c(+) cortical dendritic cells, and elimination of such cells impaired deletion.