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1.  GATA3-Driven Th2 Responses Inhibit TGF-β1–Induced FOXP3 Expression and the Formation of Regulatory T Cells 
PLoS Biology  2007;5(12):e329.
Transcription factors act in concert to induce lineage commitment towards Th1, Th2, or T regulatory (Treg) cells, and their counter-regulatory mechanisms were shown to be critical for polarization between Th1 and Th2 phenotypes. FOXP3 is an essential transcription factor for natural, thymus-derived (nTreg) and inducible Treg (iTreg) commitment; however, the mechanisms regulating its expression are as yet unknown. We describe a mechanism controlling iTreg polarization, which is overruled by the Th2 differentiation pathway. We demonstrated that interleukin 4 (IL-4) present at the time of T cell priming inhibits FOXP3. This inhibitory mechanism was also confirmed in Th2 cells and in T cells of transgenic mice overexpressing GATA-3 in T cells, which are shown to be deficient in transforming growth factor (TGF)-β–mediated FOXP3 induction. This inhibition is mediated by direct binding of GATA3 to the FOXP3 promoter, which represses its transactivation process. Therefore, this study provides a new understanding of tolerance development, controlled by a type 2 immune response. IL-4 treatment in mice reduces iTreg cell frequency, highlighting that therapeutic approaches that target IL-4 or GATA3 might provide new preventive strategies facilitating tolerance induction particularly in Th2-mediated diseases, such as allergy.
Author Summary
Specific immune responses against foreign or autologous antigens are driven by specialized epitope-specific T cells, whose numbers expand upon recognition of antigen found on professional antigen-presenting cells. The subsequent maturation process involves the differentiation of certain T cell phenotypes such as pro-inflammatory cells (Th1, Th2, Th17) or regulatory T (Treg) cells, which serve to keep the immune response in check. The current study focuses on the role of two key transcription factors—FOXP3 and GATA3—in controlling the commitment of these cells. We demonstrate that the Th2 cytokine IL-4 inhibits the induction of FOXP3 and thus inhibits the generation of inducible Treg cells. We show that IL-4–induced GATA3 mediates FOXP3 inhibition by directly binding to a GATA element in the FOXP3 promoter. We hypothesize that therapeutic agents aimed at neutralizing IL-4 could be a novel strategy to facilitate inducible Treg cell generation and thus promotion of tolerance in allergies and other Th2-dominated diseases.
It is shown that Th2 responses prevent the generation of inducible Tregs. This is mediated by IL-4 induction of GATA3, which binds directly to and represses the FOXP3 promoter. This mechanism is likely to be relevant in the induction of immunotolerance, particularly in allergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC2222968  PMID: 18162042
2.  The B Cell Antigen Receptor Controls Integrin Activity through Btk and PLCγ2 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2003;198(10):1539-1550.
Integrin-mediated adhesion and B cell antigen receptor (BCR) signaling play a critical role in B cell development and function, including antigen-specific B cell differentiation. Here we show that the BCR controls integrin α4β1 (VLA-4)-mediated adhesion of B cells to vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and fibronectin. Molecular dissection of the underlying signaling mechanism by a combined biochemical, pharmacological, and genetic approach demonstrates that this BCR-controlled integrin-mediated adhesion requires the (consecutive) activation of Lyn, Syk, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk), phospholipase C (PLC)γ2, IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release, and PKC. In contrast, activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) or extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) is not required, and simultaneous activation of MEK, ERK, and PKB is not sufficient either. Furthermore, Btk is also involved in the control of integrin-mediated adhesion of preB cells. The control of integrin α4β1-mediated B cell adhesion by the BCR involves cytoskeletal reorganization and integrin clustering. These results reveal a novel function for the BCR and Btk, i.e., regulation of integrin α4β1 activity, thereby providing new insights into the control of B cell development and differentiation, as well as into the pathogenesis of the immunodeficiency disease X-linked agammaglobulineamia (XLA).
PMCID: PMC2194118  PMID: 14610042
lymphocyte adhesion; B-cell development; X-linked agammaglobulinaemia; germinal center; VCAM-1
3.  Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase Cooperates with the B Cell Linker Protein SLP-65 as a Tumor Suppressor in Pre-B Cells 
Expression of the pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR) leads to activation of the adaptor molecule SLP-65 and the cytoplasmic kinase Btk. Mice deficient for one of these signaling proteins have an incomplete block in B cell development at the stage of large cycling pre-BCR+CD43+ pre-B cells. Our recent findings of defective SLP-65 expression in ∼50% of childhood pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemias and spontaneous pre-B cell lymphoma development in SLP-65−/− mice demonstrate that SLP-65 acts as a tumor suppressor. To investigate cooperation between Btk and SLP-65, we characterized the pre-B cell compartment in single and double mutant mice, and found that the two proteins have a synergistic role in the developmental progression of large cycling into small resting pre-B cells. We show that Btk/SLP-65 double mutant mice have a dramatically increased pre-B cell tumor incidence (∼75% at 16 wk of age), as compared with SLP-65 single deficient mice (<10%). These findings demonstrate that Btk cooperates with SLP-65 as a tumor suppressor in pre-B cells. Furthermore, transgenic low-level expression of a constitutive active form of Btk, the E41K-Y223F mutant, prevented tumor formation in Btk/SLP-65 double mutant mice, indicating that constitutive active Btk can substitute for SLP-65 as a tumor suppressor.
PMCID: PMC2196076  PMID: 12835482
Btk; lymphoma; precursor-B cell; SLP-65/BLNK; tumor suppressor
4.  Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase Regulates the Activation of Gene Rearrangements at the λ Light Chain Locus in Precursor B Cells in the Mouse 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2001;193(10):1169-1178.
Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk) is a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase involved in precursor B (pre-B) cell receptor signaling. Here we demonstrate that Btk-deficient mice have an ∼50% reduction in the frequency of immunoglobulin (Ig) λ light chain expression, already at the immature B cell stage in the bone marrow. Conversely, transgenic mice expressing the activated mutant BtkE41K showed increased λ usage. As the κ/λ ratio is dependent on (a) the level and kinetics of κ and λ locus activation, (b) the life span of pre-B cells, and (c) the extent of receptor editing, we analyzed the role of Btk in these processes. Enforced expression of the Bcl-2 apoptosis inhibitor did not alter the Btk dependence of λ usage. Crossing 3-83μδ autoantibody transgenic mice into Btk-deficient mice showed that Btk is not essential for receptor editing. Also, Btk-deficient surface Ig+ B cells that were generated in vitro in interleukin 7-driven bone marrow cultures manifested reduced λ usage. An intrinsic defect in λ locus recombination was further supported by the finding in Btk-deficient mice of reduced λ usage in the fraction of pre-B cells that express light chains in their cytoplasm. These results implicate Btk in the regulation of the activation of the λ locus for V(D)J recombination in pre-B cells.
PMCID: PMC2193329  PMID: 11369788
Btk; B lymphocytes; Ig L chain; receptor editing; V(D)J rearrangements
5.  Role of Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase in B Cell Development 
Developmental Immunology  2001;8(3-4):171-181.
X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) is one of the most frequent inherited immunodeficiency diseases in man and is characterized by an almost complete arrest of B cell differentiation at the pre-B cell stage. The gene defective in XLA encodes the cytoplasmic signaling molecule Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk). Next to the CBA/N strain of mice, carrying a single amino acid substitution mutation in the Btk gene, which results in the X-linked immunodeficiency (xid) phenotype, additional mouse models have been developed to study the role of Btk in vivo. This review discusses the analyses of Btk null-mutants, obtained by gene targeting in embryonic stem cells, and transgenic mice that express wild-type or mutated forms of the Btk gene. These studies provided information on the function of Btk at several important checkpoints throughout B cell development. Analyses of the mouse models indicated that Btk is not essential for pre-B cell receptor signaling in the mouse. By contrast, Btk-mediated B cell receptor signaling appears to be required for the survival of immature B cells in the bone marrow, that have performed a successful immunoglobulin (Ig) L chain locus rearrangement, resultirig in the expression of a non-autoreactive Ig on the membrane. Btk is also shown to be involved in signaling pathways that govern the development of peripheral B cells, including follicular entry, follicular maturation and plasma cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2276078  PMID: 11785667
B cell development; B cell receptor; Btk; immunodeficiency; XLA; xid

Results 1-5 (5)