group leader: Prof. Hühn

Recent Submissions

  • Regulation of neuroinflammatory properties of glial cells by T cell effector molecules.

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Huehn, Jochen; Stangel, Martin; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02)
  • Intact interleukin-10 receptor signaling protects from hippocampal damage elicited by experimental neurotropic virus infection of SJL mice.

    Uhde, Ann-Kathrin; Ciurkiewicz, Malgorzata; Herder, Vanessa; Khan, Muhammad Akram; Hensel, Niko; Claus, Peter; Beckstette, Michael; Teich, René; Floess, Stefan; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Jung, Klaus; Huehn, Jochen; Beineke, Andreas; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-04-17)
    Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) infection represents an experimental mouse model to study hippocampal damage induced by neurotropic viruses. IL-10 is a pleiotropic cytokine with profound anti-inflammatory properties, which critically controls immune homeostasis. In order to analyze IL-10R signaling following virus-induced polioencephalitis, SJL mice were intracerebrally infected with TMEV. RNA-based next generation sequencing revealed an up-regulation of Il10, Il10rα and further genes involved in IL-10 downstream signaling, including Jak1, Socs3 and Stat3 in the brain upon infection. Subsequent antibody-mediated blockade of IL-10R signaling led to enhanced hippocampal damage with neuronal loss and increased recruitment of CD3+ T cells, CD45R+ B cells and an up-regulation of Il1α mRNA. Increased expression of Tgfβ and Foxp3 as well as accumulation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and arginase-1+ macrophages/microglia was detected in the hippocampus, representing a potential compensatory mechanism following disturbed IL-10R signaling. Additionally, an increased peripheral Chi3l3 expression was found in spleens of infected mice, which may embody reactive regulatory mechanisms for prevention of excessive immunopathology. The present study highlights the importance of IL-10R signaling for immune regulation and its neuroprotective properties in the context of an acute neurotropic virus infection.
  • The invasin D protein fromYersinia pseudotuberculosisselectively binds the Fab region of host antibodies and affects colonization of the intestine.

    Sadana, Pooja; Geyer, Rebecca; Pezoldt, Joern; Helmsing, Saskia; Huehn, Jochen; Hust, Michael; Dersch, Petra; Scrima, Andrea; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-03-13)
    Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a Gram-negative bacterium and zoonotic pathogen responsible for a wide range of diseases, ranging from mild diarrhea, enterocolitis, lymphatic adenitis to persistent local inflammation. TheY. pseudotuberculosisinvasin D (InvD) molecule belongs to the invasin (InvA)-type autotransporter proteins, but its structure and function remain unknown. In this study, we present the first crystal structure of InvD, analyzed its expression and function in a murine infection model, and identified its target molecule in the host. We found that InvD is induced at 37°C and expressed in vivo2-4 days after infection, indicating that InvD is a virulence factor. During infection, InvD was expressed in all parts of the intestinal tract, but not in deeper lymphoid tissues. The crystal structure of the C-terminal adhesion domain of InvD revealed a distinct Ig-related fold, that, apart from the canonical β-sheets, comprises various modifications of and insertions into the Ig-core structure. We identified the Fab fragment of host-derived IgG/IgA antibodies as the target of the adhesion domain. Phage display panning and flow cytometry data further revealed that InvD exhibits a preferential binding specificity toward antibodies with VH3/VK1 variable domains and that it is specifically recruited to a subset of B cells. This finding suggests that InvD modulates Ig functions in the intestine and affects direct interactions with a subset of cell surface-exposed B-cell receptors. In summary, our results provide extensive insights into the structure of InvD and its specific interaction with the target molecule in the host.
  • Polymicrobial sepsis and non-specific immunization induce adaptive immunosuppression to a similar degree.

    Schmoeckel, Katrin; Mrochen, Daniel M; Hühn, Jochen; Pötschke, Christian; Bröker, Barbara M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
    Sepsis is frequently complicated by a state of profound immunosuppression, in its extreme form known as immunoparalysis. We have studied the role of the adaptive immune system in the murine acute peritonitis model. To read out adaptive immunosuppression, we primed post-septic and control animals by immunization with the model antigen TNP-ovalbumin in alum, and measured the specific antibody-responses via ELISA and ELISpot assay as well as T-cell responses in a proliferation assay after restimulation. Specific antibody titers, antibody affinity and plasma cell counts in the bone marrow were reduced in post-septic animals. The antigen-induced splenic proliferation was also impaired. The adaptive immunosuppression was positively correlated with an overwhelming general antibody response to the septic insult. Remarkably, antigen "overload" by non-specific immunization induced a similar degree of adaptive immunosuppression in the absence of sepsis. In both settings, depletion of regulatory T cells before priming reversed some parameters of the immunosuppression. In conclusion, our data show that adaptive immunosuppression occurs independent of profound systemic inflammation and life-threatening illness.
  • Impact of CCR7 on T-Cell Response and Susceptibility to Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Infection.

    Pezoldt, Joern; Pisano, Fabio; Heine, Wiebke; Pasztoi, Maria; Rosenheinrich, Maik; Nuss, Aaron M; Pils, Marina C; Prinz, Immo; Förster, Reinhold; Huehn, Jochen; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-09-15)
    To successfully limit pathogen dissemination, an immunological link between the entry tissue of the pathogen and the underlying secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs) needs to be established to prime adaptive immune responses. Here, the prerequisite of CCR7 to mount host immune responses within SLOs during gastrointestinal Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection to limit pathogen spread was investigated.
  • Gut memories do not fade: epigenetic regulation of lasting gut homing receptor expression in CD4(+) memory T cells.

    Szilagyi, B A; Triebus, J; Kressler, C; de Almeida, M; Tierling, S; Durek, P; Mardahl, M; Szilagyi, A; Floess, S; Huehn, J; Syrbe, U; Walter, J; Polansky, J K; Hamann, A; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschhung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11)
    The concept of a "topographical memory" in lymphocytes implies a stable expression of homing receptors mediating trafficking of lymphocytes back to the tissue of initial activation. However, a significant plasticity of the gut-homing receptor α4β7 was found in CD8(+) T cells, questioning the concept. We now demonstrate that α4β7 expression in murine CD4(+) memory T cells is, in contrast, imprinted and remains stable in the absence of the inducing factor retinoic acid (RA) or other stimuli from mucosal environments. Repetitive rounds of RA treatment enhanced the stability of de novo induced α4β7. A novel enhancer element in the murine Itga4 locus was identified that showed, correlating to stability, selective DNA demethylation in mucosa-seeking memory cells and methylation-dependent transcriptional activity in a reporter gene assay. This implies that epigenetic mechanisms contribute to the stabilization of α4β7 expression. Analogous DNA methylation patterns could be observed in the human ITGA4 locus, suggesting that its epigenetic regulation is conserved between mice and men. These data prove that mucosa-specific homing mediated by α4β7 is imprinted in CD4(+) memory T cells, reinstating the validity of the concept of "topographical memory" for mucosal tissues, and imply a critical role of epigenetic mechanisms.
  • Effectors of Th1 and Th17 cells act on astrocytes and augment their neuroinflammatory properties.

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Kronisch, Julius; Khorooshi, Reza; Knier, Benjamin; Toft-Hansen, Henrik; Gudi, Viktoria; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Owens, Trevor; Korn, Thomas; Stangel, Martin; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-10-16)
    Autoreactive Th1 and Th17 cells are believed to mediate the pathology of multiple sclerosis in the central nervous system (CNS). Their interaction with microglia and astrocytes in the CNS is crucial for the regulation of the neuroinflammation. Previously, we have shown that only Th1 but not Th17 effectors activate microglia. However, it is not clear which cells are targets of Th17 effectors in the CNS.
  • TCR signalling network organization at the immunological synapses of murine regulatory T cells.

    van Ham, Marco; Teich, René; Philipsen, Lars; Niemz, Jana; Amsberg, Nicole; Wissing, Josef; Nimtz, Manfred; Gröbe, Lothar; Kliche, Stefanie; Thiel, Nadine; Klawonn, Frank; Hubo, Mario; Jonuleit, Helmut; Reichardt, Peter; Müller, Andreas J; Huehn, Jochen; Jänsch, Lothar; Helmholtz-Zetrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-17)
    Regulatory T (Treg) cells require T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling to exert their immunosuppressive activity, but the precise organization of the TCR signalling network compared to conventional T (Tconv) cells remains elusive. By using accurate mass spectrometry and multi-epitope ligand cartography (MELC) we characterized TCR signalling and recruitment of TCR signalling components to the immunological synapse (IS) in Treg cells and Tconv cells. With the exception of Themis which we detected in lower amounts in Treg cells, other major TCR signalling components were found equally abundant, however, their phosphorylation-status notably discriminates Treg cells from Tconv cells. Overall, this study identified 121 Treg cell-specific phosphorylations. Short-term triggering of T cell subsets via CD3 and CD28 widely harmonized these variations with the exception of eleven TCR signalling components that mainly regulate cytoskeleton dynamics and molecular transport. Accordingly, conjugation with B cells indeed caused variant cellular morphology and revealed a Treg cell-specific recruitment of TCR signalling components such as PKCθ, PLCγ1 and ZAP70 as well as B cell-derived CD86 into the IS. Together, results from this study support the existence of a Treg cell-specific IS and suggest Treg cell-specific cytoskeleton dynamics as a novel determinant for the unique functional properties of Treg cells.
  • Epigenetic orchestration of thymic Treg cell development.

    Beyer, Marc; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-19)
  • Mesenteric lymph node stromal cell-derived extracellular vesicles contribute to peripheral de novo induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells.

    Pasztoi, Maria; Pezoldt, Joern; Beckstette, Michael; Lipps, Christoph; Wirth, Dagmar; Rohde, Manfred; Paloczi, Krisztina; Buzas, Edit Iren; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-18)
    Intestinal regulatory T cells (Tregs) are fundamental in peripheral tolerance toward commensals and food-borne antigens. Accordingly, gut-draining mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs) represent a site of efficient peripheral de novo Treg induction when compared to skin-draining peripheral LNs (pLNs), and we had recently shown that LN stromal cells substantially contribute to this process. Here, we aimed to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms and generated immortalized fibroblastic reticular cell lines (iFRCs) from mLNs and pLNs, allowing unlimited investigation of this rare stromal cell subset. In line with our previous findings, mLN-iFRCs showed a higher Treg-inducing capacity when compared to pLN-iFRCs. RNA-seq analysis focusing on secreted molecules revealed a more tolerogenic phenotype of mLN- as compared to pLN-iFRCs. Remarkably, mLN-iFRCs produced substantial numbers of microvesicles (MVs) that carried elevated levels of TGF-β when compared to pLN-iFRC-derived MVs, and these novel players of intercellular communication were shown to be responsible for the tolerogenic properties of mLN-iFRCs. Thus, stromal cells originating from mLNs contribute to peripheral tolerance by fostering de novo Treg induction using TGF-β-carrying MVs. This finding provides novel insights into the subcellular/molecular mechanisms of de novo Treg induction and might serve as promising tool for future therapeutic applications to treat inflammatory disorders.
  • Helicobacter pylori and its secreted immunomodulator VacA protect against anaphylaxis in experimental models of food allergy.

    Kyburz, Andreas; Urban, Sabine; Altobelli, Aleksandra; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Cover, Timothy L; Müller, Anne; Helmholtz Centre for infection research GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-12)
    Food allergy is an increasingly common health problem in Western populations. Epidemiological studies have suggested both positive and negative associations between food allergy and infection with the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
  • Activated protein C protects from GvHD via PAR2/PAR3 signalling in regulatory T-cells.

    Ranjan, Satish; Goihl, Alexander; Kohli, Shrey; Gadi, Ihsan; Pierau, Mandy; Shahzad, Khurrum; Gupta, Dheerendra; Bock, Fabian; Wang, Hongjie; Shaikh, Haroon; Kähne, Thilo; Reinhold, Dirk; Bank, Ute; Zenclussen, Ana C; Niemz, Jana; Schnöder, Tina M; Brunner-Weinzierl, Monika; Fischer, Thomas; Kalinski, Thomas; Schraven, Burkhart; Luft, Thomas; Huehn, Jochen; Naumann, Michael; Heidel, Florian H; Isermann, Berend; Helmholtz Centre for infection research GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-21)
    Graft-vs.-host disease (GvHD) is a major complication of allogenic hematopoietic stem-cell(HSC) transplantation. GvHD is associated with loss of endothelial thrombomodulin, but the relevance of this for the adaptive immune response to transplanted HSCs remains unknown. Here we show that the protease-activated protein C (aPC), which is generated by thrombomodulin, ameliorates GvHD aPC restricts allogenic T-cell activation via the protease activated receptor (PAR)2/PAR3 heterodimer on regulatory T-cells (Tregs, CD4(+)FOXP3(+)). Preincubation of pan T-cells with aPC prior to transplantation increases the frequency of Tregs and protects from GvHD. Preincubation of human T-cells (HLA-DR4(-)CD4(+)) with aPC prior to transplantation into humanized (NSG-AB°DR4) mice ameliorates graft-vs.-host disease. The protective effect of aPC on GvHD does not compromise the graft vs. leukaemia effect in two independent tumor cell models. Ex vivo preincubation of T-cells with aPC, aPC-based therapies, or targeting PAR2/PAR3 on T-cells may provide a safe and effective approach to mitigate GvHD.Graft-vs.-host disease is a complication of allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, and is associated with endothelial dysfunction. Here the authors show that activated protein C signals via PAR2/PAR3 to expand Treg cells, mitigating the disease in mice.
  • Alloantigen-Induced Regulatory T Cells Generated in Presence of Vitamin C Display Enhanced Stability of Foxp3 Expression and Promote Skin Allograft Acceptance.

    Nikolouli, Eirini; Hardtke-Wolenski, Matthias; Hapke, Martin; Beckstette, Michael; Geffers, Robert; Floess, Stefan; Jaeckel, Elmar; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are critical for the maintenance of immune homeostasis and self-tolerance and can be therapeutically used for prevention of unwanted immune responses such as allotransplant rejection. Tregs are characterized by expression of the transcription factor Foxp3, and recent work suggests that epigenetic imprinting of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific epigenetic signatures genes is crucial for the stabilization of both Foxp3 expression and immunosuppressive properties within Tregs. Lately, vitamin C was reported to enhance the activity of enzymes of the ten-eleven translocation family, thereby fostering the demethylation of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific epigenetic signatures genes in developing Tregs. Here, we in vitro generated alloantigen-induced Foxp3(+) Tregs (allo-iTregs) in presence of vitamin C. Although vitamin C hardly influenced the transcriptome of allo-iTregs as revealed by RNA-seq, those vitamin C-treated allo-iTregs showed a more pronounced demethylation of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific epigenetic signatures genes accompanied with an enhanced stability of Foxp3 expression. Accordingly, when being tested in vivo in an allogeneic skin transplantation model, vitamin C-treated allo-iTregs showed a superior suppressive capacity. Together, our results pave the way for the establishment of novel protocols for the in vitro generation of alloantigen-induced Foxp3(+) Tregs for therapeutic use in transplantation medicine.
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis supports Th17 differentiation and limits de novo regulatory T cell induction by directly interfering with T cell receptor signaling.

    Pasztoi, Maria; Bonifacius, Agnes; Pezoldt, Joern; Kulkarni, Devesha; Niemz, Jana; Yang, Juhao; Teich, René; Hajek, Janina; Pisano, Fabio; Rohde, Manfred; Dersch, Petra; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-04-04)
    Adaptive immunity critically contributes to control acute infection with enteropathogenic Yersinia pseudotuberculosis; however, the role of CD4(+) T cell subsets in establishing infection and allowing pathogen persistence remains elusive. Here, we assessed the modulatory capacity of Y. pseudotuberculosis on CD4(+) T cell differentiation. Using in vivo assays, we report that infection with Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in enhanced priming of IL-17-producing T cells (Th17 cells), whereas induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) was severely disrupted in gut-draining mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs), in line with altered frequencies of tolerogenic and proinflammatory dendritic cell (DC) subsets within mLNs. Additionally, by using a DC-free in vitro system, we could demonstrate that Y. pseudotuberculosis can directly modulate T cell receptor (TCR) downstream signaling within naïve CD4(+) T cells and Tregs via injection of effector molecules through the type III secretion system, thereby affecting their functional properties. Importantly, modulation of naïve CD4(+) T cells by Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in an enhanced Th17 differentiation and decreased induction of Foxp3(+) Tregs in vitro. These findings shed light to the adjustment of the Th17-Treg axis in response to acute Y. pseudotuberculosis infection and highlight the direct modulation of CD4(+) T cell subsets by altering their TCR downstream signaling.
  • Unique properties of thymic antigen-presenting cells promote epigenetic imprinting of alloantigen-specific regulatory T cells.

    Garg, Garima; Nikolouli, Eirini; Hardtke-Wolenski, Matthias; Toker, Aras; Ohkura, Naganari; Beckstette, Michael; Miyao, Takahisa; Geffers, Robert; Floess, Stefan; Gerdes, Norbert; Lutgens, Esther; Osterloh, Anke; Hori, Shohei; Sakaguchi, Shimon; Jaeckel, Elmar; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-05-30)
    Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are potential immunotherapeutic candidates to induce transplantation tolerance. However, stability of Tregs still remains contentious and may potentially restrict their clinical use. Recent work suggested that epigenetic imprinting of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific signature genes is crucial for stabilization of immunosuppressive properties of Foxp3+ Tregs, and that these events are initiated already during early stages of thymic Treg development. However, the mechanisms governing this process remain largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that thymic antigen-presenting cells (APCs), including thymic dendritic cells (t-DCs) and medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs), can induce a more pronounced demethylation of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific epigenetic signature genes in developing Tregs when compared to splenic DCs (sp-DCs). Transcriptomic profiling of APCs revealed differential expression of secreted factors and costimulatory molecules, however neither addition of conditioned media nor interference with costimulatory signals affected Foxp3 induction by thymic APCs in vitro. Importantly, when tested in vivo both mTEC- and t-DC-generated alloantigen-specific Tregs displayed significantly higher efficacy in prolonging skin allograft acceptance when compared to Tregs generated by sp-DCs. Our results draw attention to unique properties of thymic APCs in initiating commitment towards stable and functional Tregs, a finding that could be highly beneficial in clinical immunotherapy.
  • Limited role of regulatory T cells during acute Theiler virus-induced encephalitis in resistant C57BL/6 mice

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Beineke, Andreas; Iskandar, Cut D; Gudi, Viktoria; Herder, Vanessa; Gerhauser, Ingo; Haist, Verena; Teich, René; Huehn, Jochen; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Stangel, Martin (2014-11-13)
    Abstract Background Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) infection represents a commonly used infectious animal model to study various aspects of the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). In susceptible SJL mice, dominant activity of Foxp3+ CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the CNS partly contributes to viral persistence and progressive demyelination. On the other hand, resistant C57BL/6 mice rapidly clear the virus by mounting a strong antiviral immune response. However, very little is known about the role of Tregs in regulating antiviral responses during acute encephalitis in resistant mouse strains. Methods In this study, we used DEREG mice that express the diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor under control of the foxp3 locus to selectively deplete Foxp3+ Tregs by injection of DT prior to infection and studied the effect of Treg depletion on the course of acute Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis (TME). Results As expected, DEREG mice that are on a C57BL/6 background were resistant to TMEV infection and cleared the virus within days of infection, regardless of the presence or absence of Tregs. Nevertheless, in the absence of Tregs we observed priming of stronger effector T cell responses in the periphery, which subsequently resulted in a transient increase in the frequency of IFNγ-producing T cells in the brain at an early stage of infection. Histological and flow cytometric analysis revealed that this transiently increased frequency of brain-infiltrating IFNγ-producing T cells in Treg-depleted mice neither led to an augmented antiviral response nor enhanced inflammation-mediated tissue damage. Intriguingly, Treg depletion did not change the expression of IL-10 in the infected brain, which might play a role for dampening the inflammatory damage caused by the increased number of effector T cells. Conclusion We therefore propose that unlike susceptible mice strains, interfering with the Treg compartment of resistant mice only has negligible effects on virus-induced pathologies in the CNS. Furthermore, in the absence of Tregs, local anti-inflammatory mechanisms might limit the extent of damage caused by strong anti-viral response in the CNS.
  • Viral Infection of the Central Nervous System Exacerbates Interleukin-10 Receptor Deficiency-Mediated Colitis in SJL Mice.

    Uhde, Ann-Kathrin; Herder, Vanessa; Akram Khan, Muhammad; Ciurkiewicz, Malgorzata; Schaudien, Dirk; Teich, René; Floess, Stefan; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Huehn, Jochen; Beineke, Andreas; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    Theiler´s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV)-infection is a widely used animal model for studying demyelinating disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS). The immunosuppressive cytokine Interleukin (IL)-10 counteracts hyperactive immune responses and critically controls immune homeostasis in infectious and autoimmune disorders. In order to investigate the effect of signaling via Interleukin-10 receptor (IL-10R) in infectious neurological diseases, TMEV-infected SJL mice were treated with IL-10R blocking antibody (Ab) in the acute and chronic phase of the disease. The findings demonstrate that (i) Ab-mediated IL-10 neutralization leads to progressive colitis with a reduction in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and increased numbers of CD8+CD44+ memory T cells as well as activated CD4+CD69+ and CD8+CD69+ T cells in uninfected mice. (ii) Concurrent acute TMEV-infection worsened enteric disease-mediated by IL-10R neutralization. Virus-triggered effects were associated with an enhanced activation of CD4+ T helper cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes and augmented cytokine expression. By contrast, (iii) IL-10R neutralization during chronic TMEV-infection was not associated with enhanced peripheral immunopathology but an increased CD3+ T cell influx in the spinal cord. IL-10R neutralization causes a breakdown in peripheral immune tolerance in genetically predisposed mice, which leads to immune-mediated colitis, resembling inflammatory bowel disease. Hyperactive immune state following IL-10R blockade is enhanced by central nervous system-restricted viral infection in a disease phase-dependent manner.
  • Inhibition of the JAK/STAT Signaling Pathway in Regulatory T Cells Reveals a Very Dynamic Regulation of Foxp3 Expression.

    Goldstein, Jérémie D; Burlion, Aude; Zaragoza, Bruno; Sendeyo, Kélhia; Polansky, Julia K; Huehn, Jochen; Piaggio, Eliane; Salomon, Benoit L; Marodon, Gilles; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    The IL-2/JAK3/STAT-5 signaling pathway is involved on the initiation and maintenance of the transcription factor Foxp3 in regulatory T cells (Treg) and has been associated with demethylation of the intronic Conserved Non Coding Sequence-2 (CNS2). However, the role of the JAK/STAT pathway in controlling Foxp3 in the short term has been poorly investigated. Using two different JAK/STAT pharmacological inhibitors, we observed a detectable loss of Foxp3 after 10 min. of treatment that affected 70% of the cells after one hour. Using cycloheximide, a general inhibitor of mRNA translation, we determined that Foxp3, but not CD25, has a high turnover in IL-2 stimulated Treg. This reduction was correlated with a rapid reduction of Foxp3 mRNA. This loss of Foxp3 was associated with a loss in STAT-5 binding to the CNS2, which however remains demethylated. Consequently, Foxp3 expression returns to normal level upon restoration of basal JAK/STAT signaling in vivo. Reduced expression of several genes defining Treg identity was also observed upon treatment. Thus, our results demonstrate that Foxp3 has a rapid turn over in Treg partly controlled at the transcriptional level by the JAK/STAT pathway.
  • Foxp3(+) T cells expressing RORγt represent a stable regulatory T-cell effector lineage with enhanced suppressive capacity during intestinal inflammation.

    Yang, B-H; Hagemann, S; Mamareli, P; Lauer, U; Hoffmann, U; Beckstette, M; Föhse, L; Prinz, I; Pezoldt, J; Suerbaum, S; Sparwasser, Tim; Hamann, A; Floess, S; Huehn, J; Lochner, M; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-03)
    Foxp3 (forkhead box P3 transcription factor)-expressing regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for immunological tolerance, best illustrated by uncontrolled effector T-cell responses and autoimmunity upon loss of Foxp3 expression. Tregs can adopt specific effector phenotypes upon activation, reflecting the diversity of functional demands in the different tissues of the body. Here, we report that Foxp3(+)CD4(+) T cells coexpressing retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-γt (RORγt), the master transcription factor for T helper type 17 (Th17) cells, represent a stable effector Treg lineage. Transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling revealed that Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells display signatures of both Tregs and Th17 cells, although the degree of similarity was higher to Foxp3(+)RORγt(-) Tregs than to Foxp3(-)RORγt(+) T cells. Importantly, Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells were significantly demethylated at Treg-specific epigenetic signature genes such as Foxp3, Ctla-4, Gitr, Eos, and Helios, suggesting that these cells have a stable regulatory rather than inflammatory function. Indeed, adoptive transfer of Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells in the T-cell transfer colitis model confirmed their Treg function and lineage stability in vivo, and revealed an enhanced suppressive capacity as compared with Foxp3(+)RORγt(-) Tregs. Thus, our data suggest that RORγt expression in Tregs contributes to an optimal suppressive capacity during gut-specific immune responses, rendering Foxp3(+)RORγt(+) T cells as an important effector Treg subset in the intestinal system.
  • Promiscuous Foxp3-cre activity reveals a differential requirement for CD28 in Foxp3⁺ and Foxp3⁻ T cells.

    Franckaert, Dean; Dooley, James; Roos, Evelyne; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Luche, Herve; Fehling, Hans Joerg; Liston, Adrian; Linterman, Michelle A; Schlenner, Susan M; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-04)
    Costimulatory signals by CD28 are critical for thymic regulatory T-cell (Treg) development. To determine the functional relevance of CD28 for peripheral Treg post thymic selection, we crossed the widely used Forkhead box protein 3 (Foxp3)-CreYFP mice to mice bearing a conditional Cd28 allele. Treg-specific CD28 deficiency provoked a severe autoimmune syndrome as a result of a strong disadvantage in competitive fitness and proliferation of CD28-deficient Tregs. By contrast, Treg survival and lineage integrity were not affected by the lack of CD28. This data demonstrate that, even after the initial induction requirement, Treg maintain a higher dependency on CD28 signalling than conventional T cells for homeostasis. In addition, we found the Foxp3-CreYFP allele to be a hypomorph, with reduced Foxp3 protein levels. Furthermore, we report here the stochastic activity of the Foxp3-CreYFP allele in non-Tregs, sufficient to recombine some conditional alleles (including Cd28) but not others (including R26-RFP). This hypomorphism and 'leaky' expression of the Foxp3-CreYFP allele should be considered when analysing the conditionally mutated Treg.

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