• CD8+ Foxp3+ T cells share developmental and phenotypic features with classical CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells but lack potent suppressive activity.

      Mayer, Christian T; Floess, Stefan; Baru, Abdul Mannan; Lahl, Katharina; Huehn, Jochen; Sparwasser, Tim (2011-03)
      "Suppressor T cells" were historically defined within the CD8(+) T-cell compartment and recent studies have highlighted several naturally occurring CD8(+) Foxp3(-) Treg populations. However, the relevance of CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells, which represent a minor population in both thymi and secondary lymphoid organs of nonmanipulated mice, remains unclear. We here demonstrate that de novo Foxp3 induction in peripheral CD8(+) Foxp3(-) T cells is counter-regulated by DC-mediated co-stimulation via CD80/CD86. CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells fail to develop in TCR-transgenic mice with Rag1(-/-) background, similar to classical CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Tregs. Notably, both naturally occurring and induced CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells express bona fide Treg markers including CD25, GITR, CTLA4 and CD103, and show defective IFN-γ production upon restimulation when compared with their CD8(+) Foxp3(-) counterparts. However, utilizing DEREG transgenic mice for the isolation of Foxp3(+) cells by eGFP reporter expression, we demonstrate that induced CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells similar to activated CD8(+) Foxp3(-) T cells only mildly suppress T-cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. We therefore categorize CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells as a tightly controlled population sharing certain developmental and phenotypic properties with classical CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Tregs, but lacking potent suppressive activity.
    • Development of a unique epigenetic signature during in vivo Th17 differentiation.

      Yang, Bi-Huei; Floess, Stefan; Hagemann, Stefanie; Deyneko, Igor V; Groebe, Lothar; Pezoldt, Joern; Sparwasser, Tim; Lochner, Matthias; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-02-18)
      Activated naive CD4(+) T cells are highly plastic cells that can differentiate into various T helper (Th) cell fates characterized by the expression of effector cytokines like IFN-γ (Th1), IL-4 (Th2) or IL-17A (Th17). Although previous studies have demonstrated that epigenetic mechanisms including DNA demethylation can stabilize effector cytokine expression, a comprehensive analysis of the changes in the DNA methylation pattern during differentiation of naive T cells into Th cell subsets is lacking. Hence, we here performed a genome-wide methylome analysis of ex vivo isolated naive CD4(+) T cells, Th1 and Th17 cells. We could demonstrate that naive CD4(+) T cells share more demethylated regions with Th17 cells when compared to Th1 cells, and that overall Th17 cells display the highest number of demethylated regions, findings which are in line with the previously reported plasticity of Th17 cells. We could identify seven regions located in Il17a, Zfp362, Ccr6, Acsbg1, Dpp4, Rora and Dclk1 showing pronounced demethylation selectively in ex vivo isolated Th17 cells when compared to other ex vivo isolated Th cell subsets and in vitro generated Th17 cells, suggesting that this unique epigenetic signature allows identifying and functionally characterizing in vivo generated Th17 cells.
    • Extracellular NAD+ shapes the Foxp3+ regulatory T cell compartment through the ART2-P2X7 pathway.

      Hubert, Sandra; Rissiek, Björn; Klages, Katjana; Huehn, Jochen; Sparwasser, Tim; Haag, Friedrich; Koch-Nolte, Friedrich; Boyer, Olivier; Seman, Michel; Adriouch, Sahil; et al. (2010-11-22)
      CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells (T reg cells) play a major role in the control of immune responses but the factors controlling their homeostasis and function remain poorly characterized. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)) released during cell damage or inflammation results in ART2.2-mediated ADP-ribosylation of the cytolytic P2X7 receptor on T cells. We show that T reg cells express the ART2.2 enzyme and high levels of P2X7 and that T reg cells can be depleted by intravenous injection of NAD(+). Moreover, lower T reg cell numbers are found in mice deficient for the NAD-hydrolase CD38 than in wild-type, P2X7-deficient, or ART2-deficient mice, indicating a role for extracellular NAD(+) in T reg cell homeostasis. Even routine cell preparation leads to release of NAD(+) in sufficient quantities to profoundly affect T reg cell viability, phenotype, and function. We demonstrate that T reg cells can be protected from the deleterious effects of NAD(+) by an inhibitory ART2.2-specific single domain antibody. Furthermore, selective depletion of T reg cells by systemic administration of NAD(+) can be used to promote an antitumor response in several mouse tumor models. Collectively, our data demonstrate that NAD(+) influences survival, phenotype, and function of T reg cells and provide proof of principle that acting on the ART2-P2X7 pathway represents a new strategy to manipulate T reg cells in vivo.
    • 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; et al. (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.
    • 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.
    • Limited role of regulatory T cells during acute Theiler virus-induced encephalitis in resistant C57BL/6 mice.

      Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Beineke, Andreas; Iskandar, Cut Dahlia; Gudi, Viktoria; Herder, Vanessa; Gerhauser, Ingo; Haist, Verena; Teich, René; Huehn, Jochen; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; et al. (2014)
      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.
    • Neuropilin 1 is expressed on thymus-derived natural regulatory T cells, but not mucosa-generated induced Foxp3+ T reg cells.

      Weiss, Jonathan M; Bilate, Angelina M; Gobert, Michael; Ding, Yi; Curotto de Lafaille, Maria A; Parkhurst, Christopher N; Xiong, Huizhong; Dolpady, Jayashree; Frey, Alan B; Ruocco, Maria Grazia; et al. (2012-09-24)
      Foxp3 activity is essential for the normal function of the immune system. Two types of regulatory T (T reg) cells express Foxp3, thymus-generated natural T reg (nT reg) cells, and peripherally generated adaptive T reg (iT reg) cells. These cell types have complementary functions. Until now, it has not been possible to distinguish iT reg from nT reg cells in vivo based solely on surface markers. We report here that Neuropilin 1 (Nrp1) is expressed at high levels by most nT reg cells; in contrast, mucosa-generated iT reg and other noninflammatory iT reg cells express low levels of Nrp1. We found that Nrp1 expression is under the control of TGF-β. By tracing nT reg and iT reg cells, we could establish that some tumors have a very large proportion of infiltrating iT reg cells. iT reg cells obtained from highly inflammatory environments, such as the spinal cords of mice with spontaneous autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and the lungs of mice with chronic asthma, express Nrp1. In the same animals, iT reg cells in secondary lymphoid organs remain Nrp1(low). We also determined that, in spontaneous EAE, iT reg cells help to establish a chronic phase of the disease.
    • Neuroprotective intervention by interferon-γ blockade prevents CD8+ T cell-mediated dendrite and synapse loss.

      Kreutzfeldt, Mario; Bergthaler, Andreas; Fernandez, Marylise; Brück, Wolfgang; Steinbach, Karin; Vorm, Mariann; Coras, Roland; Blümcke, Ingmar; Bonilla, Weldy V; Fleige, Anne; et al. (2013-09-23)
      Neurons are postmitotic and thus irreplaceable cells of the central nervous system (CNS). Accordingly, CNS inflammation with resulting neuronal damage can have devastating consequences. We investigated molecular mediators and structural consequences of CD8(+) T lymphocyte (CTL) attack on neurons in vivo. In a viral encephalitis model in mice, disease depended on CTL-derived interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and neuronal IFN-γ signaling. Downstream STAT1 phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in neurons were associated with dendrite and synapse loss (deafferentation). Analogous molecular and structural alterations were also found in human Rasmussen encephalitis, a CTL-mediated human autoimmune disorder of the CNS. Importantly, therapeutic intervention by IFN-γ blocking antibody prevented neuronal deafferentation and clinical disease without reducing CTL responses or CNS infiltration. These findings identify neuronal IFN-γ signaling as a novel target for neuroprotective interventions in CTL-mediated CNS disease.
    • 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; et al. (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.
    • The Treg-specific demethylated region stabilizes Foxp3 expression independently of NF-κB signaling.

      Schreiber, Lisa; Pietzsch, Beate; Floess, Stefan; Farah, Carla; Jänsch, Lothar; Schmitz, Ingo; Huehn, Jochen; Department Experimental Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2014)
      Regulatory T cells (Tregs) obtain immunosuppressive capacity by the upregulation of forkhead box protein 3 (Foxp3), and persistent expression of this transcription factor is required to maintain their immune regulatory function and ensure immune homeostasis. Stable Foxp3 expression is achieved through epigenetic modification of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR), an evolutionarily conserved non-coding element within the Foxp3 gene locus. Here, we present molecular data suggesting that TSDR enhancer activity is restricted to T cells and cannot be induced in other immune cells such as macrophages or B cells. Since NF-κB signaling has been reported to be instrumental to induce Foxp3 expression during Treg development, we analyzed how NF-κB factors are involved in the molecular regulation of the TSDR. Unexpectedly, we neither observed transcriptional activity of a previously postulated NF-κB binding site within the TSDR nor did the entire TSDR show any transcriptional responsiveness to NF-κB activation at all. Finally, the NF-κB subunit c-Rel revealed to be dispensable for epigenetic imprinting of sustained Foxp3 expression by TSDR demethylation. In conclusion, we show that NF-κB signaling is not substantially involved in TSDR-mediated stabilization of Foxp3 expression in Tregs.