Viral antigen induces differentiation of Foxp3+ natural regulatory T cells in influenza virus-infected mice.
ABSTRACT: We examined the formation, participation, and functional specialization of virus-reactive Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) in a mouse model of influenza virus infection. "Natural" Tregs generated intrathymically, based on interactions with a self-peptide, proliferated in response to a homologous viral Ag in the lungs and, to a lesser extent, in the lung-draining mediastinal lymph nodes (medLNs) of virus-infected mice. In contrast, conventional CD4(+) T cells with identical TCR specificity underwent little or no conversion to become "adaptive" Tregs. The virus-reactive Tregs in the medLNs and the lungs of infected mice upregulated a variety of molecules associated with Treg activation, as well as acquired expression of molecules (T-bet, Blimp-1, and IL-10) that confer functional specialization to Tregs. Notably, however, the phenotypes of the T-bet(+) Tregs obtained from these sites were distinct, because Tregs isolated from the lungs expressed significantly higher levels of T-bet, Blimp-1, and IL-10 than did Tregs from the medLNs. Adoptive transfer of Ag-reactive Tregs led to decreased proliferation of antiviral CD4(+) and CD8(+) effector T cells in the lungs of infected hosts, whereas depletion of Tregs had a reciprocal effect. These studies demonstrate that thymically generated Tregs can become activated by a pathogen-derived peptide and acquire discrete T-bet(+) Treg phenotypes while participating in and modulating an antiviral immune response.
Project description:How the formation and activity of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) are shaped by TCR recognition of the diverse array of peptide:MHC complexes that can be generated from self-antigens and/or foreign Ags in vivo remains poorly understood. We show that a self-peptide with low (but not high) stimulatory potency promotes thymic Treg formation and can induce conventional CD4(+) T cells in the periphery to become Tregs that express different levels of the transcription factor Helios according to anatomical location. When Tregs generated in response to this self-peptide subsequently encountered the same peptide derived instead from influenza virus in the lung-draining lymph nodes of infected mice, they proliferated, acquired a T-bet(+)CXCR3(+) phenotype, and suppressed the antiviral effector T cell response in the lungs. However, these self-antigen-selected Tregs were unable to suppress the antiviral immune response based on recognition of the peptide as a self-antigen rather than a viral Ag. Notably, when expressed in a more immunostimulatory form, the self-peptide inhibited the formation of T-bet(+)CXCR3(+) Tregs in response to viral Ag, and Ag-expressing B cells from these mice induced Treg division without upregulation of CXCR3. These studies show that a weakly immunostimulatory self-peptide can induce thymic and peripheral Foxp3(+) Treg formation but is unable to activate self-antigen-selected Tregs to modulate an antiviral immune response. Moreover, a strongly immunostimulatory self-peptide expressed by B cells induced Tregs to proliferate without acquiring an effector phenotype that allows trafficking from the draining lymph node to the lungs and, thereby, prevented the Tregs from suppressing the antiviral immune response.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) maintain peripheral self-tolerance and limit immune mediated pathology. Like effector T cells, Tregs can specialize in TH1-dominated immune responses and co-express T-bet together with Foxp3. This allows for expression of CXCR3 and efficient homing to sites of TH1 responses. However, whether such functional specialization is paralleled by memory generation among Tregs is unknown. In this study, we investigated the ability of polyclonal Tregs to form functional memory in response to viral infection. Using adoptive transfer models to compare infection-experienced Tregs generated upon acute Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) WE and Vaccinia Virus (VV) infections with naive Tregs, we observed no differences in their phenotype or their in vivo maintenance. When comparing functional properties of infection-experienced and naive Tregs, we found no differences in in vitro suppressive capacity nor in their ability to limit the effector response upon homologous, systemic or local re-challenge in vivo. Our results suggest that no functional Treg memory is generated in the context of systemic LCMV or VV infection, but we cannot rule out the possibility that the generation of Treg memory may be possible in other contexts.
Project description:T cell receptor (TCR) affinity is a critical factor of Treg lineage commitment, but whether self-reactivity is a determining factor in peripheral Treg function remains unknown. Here, we report that a high degree of self-reactivity is crucial for tissue-specific Treg function in autoimmunity. Based on high expression of CD5, we identified a subset of self-reactive Tregs expressing elevated levels of T-bet, GITR, CTLA-4, and ICOS, which imparted significant protection from autoimmune diabetes. We observed that T-bet expression in Tregs, necessary for control of Th1 autoimmunity, could be induced in an IFN?-independent fashion and, unlike in conventional T cells (Tconv), was strongly correlated with the strength of TCR signaling. The level of CD5 similarly identified human Tregs with an increased functional profile, suggesting that CD5hi Tregs may constitute an efficacious subpopulation appropriate for use in adoptive Treg therapies for treatment of inflammatory conditions. Overall, this work establishes an instrumental role of high TCR self-reactivity in driving Treg function.
Project description:NO is a free radical with pleiotropic functions. We have shown earlier that NO induces a population of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(-) regulatory T cells (NO-Tregs) that suppress the functions of CD4(+)CD25(-) effector T cells in vitro and in vivo. We report in this study an unexpected finding that NO-Tregs suppressed Th17 but not Th1 cell differentiation and function. In contrast, natural Tregs (nTregs), which suppressed Th1 cells, failed to suppress Th17 cells. Consistent with this observation, NO-Tregs inhibited the expression of retinoic acid-related orphan receptor ?t but not T-bet, whereas nTregs suppressed T-bet but not retinoic acid-related orphan receptor ?t expression. The NO-Treg-mediated suppression of Th17 was partially cell contact-dependent and was associated with IL-10. In vivo, adoptively transferred NO-Tregs potently attenuated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The disease suppression was accompanied by a reduction of Th17, but not Th1 cells in the draining lymph nodes, and a decrease in the production of IL-17, but an increase in IL-10 synthesis. Our results therefore demonstrate the differential suppressive function between NO-Tregs and nTregs and indicate specialization of the regulatory mechanism of the immune system.
Project description:Regulatory Foxp3(+) CD4 T cells (Tregs) prevent spontaneous inflammation in the lungs, inhibit allergic and asthmatic responses, and contribute to tolerance to inhaled allergens. Additionally, Tregs have previously been shown to suppress the CD8 T cell response during persistent virus infections. However, little is known concerning the role that Tregs play in modulating the adaptive immune response during acute respiratory virus infections. We show following acute respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection that Foxp3(+) CD4 Tregs rapidly accumulate in the lung-draining mediastinal lymph nodes and lungs. BrdU incorporation studies indicate that Tregs undergo proliferation that contributes to their accumulation in the lymph nodes and lungs. Following an acute RSV infection, pulmonary Tregs modulate CD25 expression and acquire an activated phenotype characterized as CD11a(high), CD44(high), CD43(glyco+), ICOS(+), and CTLA-4(+). Surprisingly, in vivo depletion of Tregs prior to RSV infection results in delayed virus clearance concomitant with an early lag in the recruitment of RSV-specific CD8 T cells into the lungs. Additionally, Treg depletion results in exacerbated disease severity, including increased weight loss, morbidity, and enhanced airway restriction. In Treg-depleted mice there is an increase in the frequency of RSV-specific CD8 T cells that coproduce IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, which may contribute to enhanced disease severity. These results indicate that pulmonary Tregs play a critical role in limiting immunopathology during an acute pulmonary virus infection by influencing the trafficking and effector function of virus-specific CD8 T cells in the lungs and draining lymph nodes.
Project description:Thymus-derived regulatory T cells (Tregs) expressing CD4, CD25, and the transcription factor Foxp3 play major roles in preventing autoimmunity. The Treg population is enriched in T cells expressing high-avidity self-reactive T cell receptors, and thymic epithelial cells expressing self-antigens (Ag) have been implicated in their induction and/or selection. However, the thymic selection events leading to Treg lineage commitment remain unclear. We followed the thymic development of self-Ag-specific Tregs in double-transgenic mice coexpressing a neo-self-Ag, hemagglutinin (HA) under the control of a neural tissue-specific promoter, and a transgenic class II-restricted T cell antigen receptor specific for HA111-119. Our data show that the promiscuous expression of the HA transgene in thymic epithelial cells is involved in the selective induction and/or expansion of HA-specific Foxp3(+) Treg thymic precursors as early as the double-positive stage.
Project description:Regulatory T cells (Tregs) adopt specialized phenotypes defined by coexpression of lineage-defining transcription factors, such as ROR?t, Bcl-6, or PPAR?, alongside Foxp3. These Treg subsets have unique tissue distributions and diverse roles in maintaining organismal homeostasis. However, despite extensive functional characterization, the factors driving Treg specialization are largely unknown. In this article, we show that c-Maf is a critical transcription factor regulating this process in mice, essential for generation of both ROR?t+ Tregs and T follicular regulatory cells, but not for adipose-resident Tregs. c-Maf appears to function primarily in Treg specialization, because IL-10 production, expression of other effector molecules, and general immune homeostasis are not c-Maf dependent. As in other T cells, c-Maf is induced in Tregs by IL-6 and TGF-?, suggesting that a combination of inflammatory and tolerogenic signals promote c-Maf expression. Therefore, c-Maf is a novel regulator of Treg specialization, which may integrate disparate signals to facilitate environmental adaptation.
Project description:The inflammatory response to lung infections must be tightly regulated, enabling pathogen elimination while maintaining crucial gas exchange. Using recently described "depletion of regulatory T cell" (DEREG) mice, we found that selective depletion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) during acute respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection enhanced viral clearance but increased weight loss, local cytokine and chemokine release, and T-cell activation and cellular influx into the lungs. Conversely, inflammation was decreased when Treg numbers and activity were boosted using interleukin-2 immune complexes. Unexpectedly, lung (but not draining lymph node) Tregs from RSV-infected mice expressed granzyme B (GzmB), and bone marrow chimeric mice with selective loss of GzmB in the Treg compartment displayed markedly enhanced cellular infiltration into the lung after infection. A crucial role for GzmB-expressing Tregs has not hitherto been described in the lung or during acute infections, but may explain the inability of children with perforin/GzmB defects to regulate immune responses to infection. The effects of RSV infection in mice with defective immune regulation closely parallel the observed effects of RSV in children with bronchiolitis, suggesting that the pathogenesis of bronchiolitis may involve an inability to regulate virus-induced inflammation.
Project description:CD4Foxp3 regulatory T cells (Tregs) are crucial in controlling immunity and self-tolerance. Consequently, in transplantation, Tregs play a central role in inhibiting acute rejection and promoting allograft tolerance. A more complete understanding of Treg biology may lead to novel therapeutic approaches to enhance Treg numbers and function.The maintenance of self-tolerance in nonlymphoid tissues requires the differentiation of Tregs in secondary lymphoid organs from naïve-like central Tregs into effector Tregs. Antigen and environmental cues guide this Treg differentiation, which parallels the types of adaptive immune responses taking place, allowing them to enter and function within specific nonlymphoid tissues. In addition to controlling inflammation, tissue-infiltrating Tregs unexpectedly regulate nonimmune processes, including metabolic homeostasis and tissue repair. Finally, Tregs can be directly and specifically targeted in vivo to augment their numbers or enhance their function in both secondary lymphoid organs and nonlymphoid tissues.Tregs exhibit a previously unrecognized breadth of function, which includes tissue-specific specialization and the regulation of both immune and nonimmune processes. This is of particular importance in transplantation since allo-reactive memory T cells can act directly within the allograft. Thus, therapeutic approaches may need to promote Treg function in transplanted tissue, as well as in secondary lymphoid organs. Such therapy would not only prevent inflammation and acute rejection, but may also promote nonimmune processes within the allograft such as tissue homeostasis and repair.
Project description:FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) control inflammation and maintain mucosal homeostasis, but their functions during infection are poorly understood. Th1, Th2, and Th17 cells can be identified by master transcription factors (TFs) T-bet, GATA3, and ROR?T; Tregs also express these TFs. While T-bet+ Tregs can selectively suppress Th1 cells, it is unclear whether distinct Treg populations can alter Th bias. To address this, we used Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium to induce nonlethal colitis. Following infection, we observed an early colonic Th17 response within total CD4 T cells, followed by a Th1 bias. The early Th17 response, which contains both Salmonella-specific and non-Salmonella-specific cells, parallels an increase in T-bet+ Tregs. Later, Th1 cells and ROR?T+ Tregs dominate. This reciprocal dynamic may indicate that Tregs selectively suppress Th cells, shaping the immune response. Treg depletion 1-2 days post-infection shifted the early Th17 response to a Th1 bias; however, Treg depletion 6-7 days post-infection abrogated the Th1 bias. Thus, Tregs are necessary for the early Th17 response, and for a maximal Th1 response later. These data show that Tregs shape the overall tissue CD4 T cell response and highlight the potential for subpopulations of Tregs to be used in targeted therapeutic approaches.