Recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) are the youngest T cells in the lymphoid periphery, and exhibit phenotypic and functional characteristics distinct from those of their more mature counterparts in the naïve peripheral T cell pool. We show here that the Il2 and Il4 promoter regions of naïve CD4+ RTEs are characterized by site-specific hypermethylation compared to those of both mature naïve (MN) T cells and the thymocyte precursors of RTEs. Thus, RTEs do not merely occupy a midpoint between the thymus and the mature T cell pool, but represent a distinct transitional T cell population. Furthermore, RTEs and MN T cells exhibit distinct CpG DNA methylation patterns both before and after activation. Compared to MN T cells, RTEs express higher levels of several enzymes that modify DNA methylation, and inhibiting methylation during culture allows RTEs to reach MN T cell levels of cytokine production. Collectively, these data suggest that the functional differences that distinguish RTEs from MN T cells are influenced by epigenetic mechanisms and provide clues to a mechanistic basis for post-thymic maturation.
A sparse population of thymocytes undergoes TCRα gene rearrangement early in development, before the double positive stage. The potential of these cells to contribute to the peripheral T cell pool is unknown. To examine the peripheral T cell compartment expressing a repertoire biased to early TCR gene rearrangements, we developed a mouse model in which TCRα rearrangements are restricted to the double negative stage of thymocyte development. These mice carry floxed RAG2 alleles and a Cre transgene driven by the CD4 promoter. As expected, conventional T cell development is compromised in such Cre(+) RAG2fl/fl mice, and the TCRαβ+ T cells that develop are limited in their TCRα repertoire, preferentially utilizing early-rearranging Vα genes. In the gut, the Thy-1+TCRαβ+ intraepithelial lymphocyte (IEL) compartment is surprisingly intact, while the Thy-1−TCRαβ+ subset is almost completely absent. Thus, T cells expressing a TCRα repertoire that is the product of early gene rearrangements can preferentially populate distinct IEL compartments. Despite this capacity, Cre(+) RAG2fl/fl T cell progenitors cannot compete with wild-type (WT) T cell progenitors in mixed bone marrow chimeras, suggesting that in normal mice, there is only a small contribution to the peripheral T cell pool by cells that have undergone early TCRα rearrangements. In the absence of WT competitors, aggressive homeostatic proliferation in the IEL compartment can promote a relatively normal Thy-1+ TCRαβ+ T cell pool from the limited population derived from Cre(+) RAG2fl/fl progenitors.
T cells; T Cell Receptors; Repertoire Development; Gene Rearrangement; Mucosa
CD4+ T cells respond to peripheral endogenous superantigen stimulation by undergoing deletion or TCR revision. The latter involves RAG re-expression, TCR gene rearrangement, and expression of a novel TCR. TCR-revised T cells are functional and express a diverse TCR repertoire. Because TCR revision harbors the potential to create self-reactivity, it is important to explore whether T cells known to be self-reactive (regulatory T cells) or those involved in autoimmunity (Th17 cells) arise from TCR revision. Interestingly, we observed that Foxp3+ cells are excluded from revising their TCR and that only a small fraction of postrevision cells expresses Foxp3. In contrast, Th17 cells are 20 times more frequent among revised than among C57BL/6 CD4+ T cells, indicating that postrevision cells are biased toward the Th17 lineage. The link between Th17 differentiation and TCR revision might be highly relevant to the role of Th17 cells in promoting autoimmunity.
Fas ligand, best known as a death-inducer, is also a costimulatory molecule required for maximal proliferation of mature antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. We now extend the role of Fas ligand by showing that it can also influence thymocyte development. T cell maturation in some, but not all, strains of TCR transgenic mice is severely impaired in thymocytes expressing mutant Fas ligand incapable of interacting with Fas. Mutant Fas ligand inhibits neither negative selection nor death by neglect. Instead, it appears to modulate positive selection of thymocytes expressing both class I– and class II–restricted T cell receptors of moderate affinity for their positively selecting ligands. Fas ligand is therefore an inducer of death, a costimulator of peripheral T cell activation, and an accessory molecule in positive selection.
Fas ligand; T cell development; TNF family; reverse signaling; gld
Most yeast ribosomal protein genes are duplicated and their characterization has led to hypotheses regarding the existence of specialized ribosomes with different subunit composition or specifically-tailored functions. In yeast, ribosomal protein genes are generally duplicated and evidence has emerged that paralogs might have specific roles. Unlike yeast, most mammalian ribosomal proteins are thought to be encoded by a single gene copy, raising the possibility that heterogenous populations of ribosomes are unique to yeast. Here, we examine the roles of the mammalian Rpl22, finding that Rpl22−/− mice have only subtle phenotypes with no significant translation defects. We find that in the Rpl22−/− mouse there is a compensatory increase in Rpl22-like1 (Rpl22l1) expression and incorporation into ribosomes. Consistent with the hypothesis that either ribosomal protein can support translation, knockdown of Rpl22l1 impairs growth of cells lacking Rpl22. Mechanistically, Rpl22 regulates Rpl22l1 directly by binding to an internal hairpin structure and repressing its expression. We propose that ribosome specificity may exist in mammals, providing evidence that one ribosomal protein can influence composition of the ribosome by regulating its own paralog.
Translation is the process by which proteins are made within a cell. Ribosomes are the main macromolecular complexes involved in this process. Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNA and ribosomal proteins. Ribosomal proteins are generally thought to be structural components of the ribosome but recent findings have suggested that they might have a regulatory function as well. A growing number of human diseases have been linked to mutations in genes encoding factors involved in ribosome biogenesis and translation. These include developmental malformations, inherited bone marrow failure syndromes and cancer in a variety of organisms. Here, we describe the role of one ribosomal protein regulating another. We provide evidence that ribosomal proteins can influence the composition of the ribosome, which we hypothesize, may impact the function of the ribosome.
Fas ligand (FasL/CD95L) is best known for its role in delivering apoptotic signals through its receptor, Fas (APO-1/CD95). In this study, we present evidence that FasL has a second role as a signaling receptor. Alloantigen-specific proliferation by multiple FasL− murine CTL lines is depressed compared to that of FasL+ CTL lines. FasL− CTLs kill efficiently on a per recovered cell basis and can achieve wild-type levels of proliferation upon stimulation by optimal doses of anti-CD3, suggesting the lack of a costimulatory signal during antigen stimulation. To test this hypothesis directly, soluble FasIgG, a fusion protein of murine Fas and human IgG1, was added to FasL+ CTLs to demonstrate that blocking cell surface Fas–FasL interactions mimics the depression observed for FasL− CTLs. In addition, plate-bound FasIgG in conjunction with suboptimal anti-CD3 stimulation augments proliferative signals in FasL+ but not FasL− CTLs. In contrast to these results with CD8+ T cells, alloantigen-stimulated FasL− CD4+ T cells proliferate vigorously compared to FasL+ cells. These data demonstrate that reverse signaling through FasL is required for CTLs to achieve maximal proliferation and may provide clues to differences in the homeostatic regulation of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells during an immune response.
One of the challenges faced by the infant immune system is learning to distinguish the myriad of foreign but nonthreatening antigens encountered from those expressed by true pathogens. This balance is reflected in the diminished production of proinflammatory cytokines by both innate and adaptive immune cells in the infant. A downside of this bias is that several factors critical for controlling Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection are significantly restricted in infants, including TNF, IL-1, and IL-12. Furthermore, infant T cells are inherently less capable of differentiating into IFN-γ-producing T cells. As a result, infected infants are 5–10 times more likely than adults to develop active tuberculosis (TB) and have higher rates of severe disseminated disease, including miliary TB and meningitis. Infant TB is a fundamentally different disease than TB in immune competent adults. Immunotherapeutics, therefore, should be specifically evaluated in infants before they are routinely employed to treat TB in this age group. Modalities aimed at reducing inflammation, which may be beneficial for adjunctive therapy of some forms of TB in older children and adults, may be of no benefit or even harmful in infants who manifest much less inflammatory disease.
Recent thymic emigrants, the youngest T cells in the lymphoid periphery, undergo a 3-week-long period of functional and phenotypic maturation before being incorporated into the pool of mature, naïve T cells. Previous studies indicate that this maturation requires T cell exit from the thymus and access to secondary lymphoid organs, but is MHC-independent. We now show that post-thymic T cell maturation is independent of homeostatic and costimulatory pathways, requiring neither signals delivered by IL-7 nor CD80/86. Furthermore, while CCR7/CCL19,21-regulated homing of recent thymic emigrants to the T cell zones within the secondary lymphoid organs is not required for post-thymic T cell maturation, an intact dendritic cell compartment modulates this process. It is thus clear that, unlike T cell development and homeostasis, post-thymic maturation is focused not on interrogating the T cell receptor or the cell’s responsiveness to homeostatic or costimulatory signals, but on some as yet unrecognized property.
recent thymic emigrants; IL-7; dendritic cells
To be added
Thymus function is thought to depend on a steady supply of T cell progenitors from the bone marrow. The notion that the thymus lacks progenitors with self-renewal capacity is based on thymus transplantation experiments in which host-derived thymocytes replaced thymus-resident cells within 4 wk. Thymus grafting into T cell–deficient mice resulted in a wave of T cell export from the thymus, followed by colonization of the thymus by host-derived progenitors, and cessation of T cell development. Compound Rag2−/−γc−/−KitW/Wv mutants lack competitive hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and are devoid of T cell progenitors. In this study, using this strain as recipients for wild-type thymus grafts, we noticed thymus-autonomous T cell development lasting several months. However, we found no evidence for export of donor HSCs from thymus to bone marrow. A diverse T cell antigen receptor repertoire in progenitor-deprived thymus grafts implied that many thymocytes were capable of self-renewal. Although the process was most efficient in Rag2−/−γc−/−KitW/Wv hosts, γc-mediated signals alone played a key role in the competition between thymus-resident and bone marrow–derived progenitors. Hence, the turnover of each generation of thymocytes is not only based on short life span but is also driven via expulsion of resident thymocytes by fresh progenitors entering the thymus.
TCR revision is a tolerance mechanism by which self-reactive TCRs expressed by mature CD4+ peripheral T cells are replaced by receptors encoded by genes generated by post-thymic DNA rearrangement. The down modulation of surface TCR expression initiates TCR revision, and serves as a likely trigger for the induction of the recombinase machinery. We show here in a Vβ5 transgenic mouse model system that downregulation of the self-reactive transgene-encoded TCR is not maintained by transgene loss or diminished transcription or translation. The downregulation of surface TCR expression likely occurs in two stages, only one of which requires tolerogen expression.
receptor revision; peripheral T cell tolerance; TCR expression
Peripheral CD4+Vβ5+ T cells are tolerized to an endogenous mouse mammary tumor virus superantigen either by deletion or TCR revision. Through TCR revision, RAG reexpression mediates extrathymic TCRβ rearrangement and results in a population of post-revision CD4+Vβ5− T cells expressing revised TCRβ chains. We have hypothesized that cell death pathways regulate the selection of cells undergoing TCR revision to ensure the safety and utility of the post-revision population. Here, we investigate the role of Bim-mediated cell death in autoantigen-driven deletion and TCR revision. Bim deficiency and Bcl-2 overexpression in Vβ5 transgenic (Tg) mice both impair peripheral deletion. Vβ5 Tg Bim deficient and Bcl-2 Tg mice exhibit an elevated frequency of CD4+ T cells expressing both the transgene-encoded Vβ5 chain and a revised TCRβ chain. We now show that these dual-TCR expressing cells are TCR revision intermediates, and that the population of RAG-expressing, revising CD4+ T cells is increased in Bim deficient Vβ5 Tg mice. These findings support a role for Bim and Bcl-2 in regulating the balance of survival versus apoptosis in peripheral T cells undergoing RAG-dependent TCR rearrangements during TCR revision, thereby ensuring the utility of the post-revision repertoire.
TCR revision; tolerance; Bim; Bcl-2; apoptosis; T cell selection
T cell maturation was once thought to occur entirely within the thymus. Now, evidence is mounting that the youngest peripheral T cells in both mice and humans comprise a distinct population from their more mature, yet still naive, counterparts. These cells, termed recent thymic emigrants (RTEs), undergo a process of post-thymic maturation that can be monitored at the levels of cell phenotype and immune function. Understanding this final maturation step in the process of generating useful and safe T cells is of clinical relevance, given that RTEs are over-represented in neonates and in adults recovering from lymphopenia. Post-thymic maturation may function to ensure T cell fitness and self tolerance.
CD4+Vβ5+ peripheral T cells in B6 mice respond to encounter with a peripherally-expressed endogenous superantigen by undergoing either deletion or TCR revision. In this latter process, cells lose surface Vβ5 expression and undergo RAG-dependent rearrangement of endogenous TCRβ genes, driving surface expression of novel TCRs. While post-revision CD4+Vβ5−TCRβ+ T cells accumulate with age in Vβ5 transgenic mice and bear a diverse TCR Vβ repertoire, it is unknown whether they respond to homeostatic and antigenic stimuli, and thus may benefit the host. We now demonstrate that post-revision cells are functional. These cells have a high rate of steady-state homeostatic proliferation in situ and they undergo extensive MHC class II-dependent lymphopenia-induced proliferation. Importantly, post-revision cells do not proliferate in response to the tolerizing superantigen, implicating TCR revision as a mechanism of tolerance induction and demonstrating that TCR-dependent activation of post-revision cells is not driven by the transgene-encoded receptor. Post-revision cells proliferate extensively to commensal bacterial Ags and can generate I-Ab-restricted responses to Ag by producing IFNγ following Listeria monocytogenes challenge. These data show that rescued post-revision T cells are responsive to homeostatic signals and recognize self and foreign peptides in the context of self MHC, and are thus useful to the host.
TCR revision; tolerance; T cell homeostasis
Mature CD4+Vβ5+ T cells that recognize a peripherally expressed endogenous superantigen are tolerized either by deletion or T cell receptor (TCR) revision. In Vβ5 transgenic mice, this latter tolerance pathway results in the appearance of CD4+Vβ5−TCRβ+ T cells, coinciding with Rag1, Rag2, and TdT expression and the accumulation of Vβ-DJβ recombination intermediates in peripheral CD4+ T cells. Because post-thymic RAG-dependent TCR rearrangement has remained controversial, we sought to definitively determine whether TCR revision is an extrathymic process that occurs in mature peripheral T cells. We now show that Rag deletion in post-positive selection T cells in Vβ5 transgenic mice blocks TCR revision in vivo, and that mature peripheral T cells sorted to remove cells bearing endogenous TCRβ chains can express newly generated TCRβ molecules in adoptive hosts. These findings unambiguously demonstrate post-thymic, RAG-dependent TCR rearrangement and define TCR revision as a tolerance pathway that targets mature peripheral CD4+ T cells.
TCR revision; RAG1; RAG2; dLck-cre transgenic
In naïve animals, γδ T cells are innate sources of IL-17, a potent proinflammatory cytokine mediating bacterial clearance as well as autoimmunity. However, mechanisms underlying the generation of these cells in vivo remain unclear. Here we show that TGFβ1 plays a key role in the generation of IL-17+ γδ T cells, and that it mainly occurs in the thymus particularly during the postnatal period. Interestingly, IL-17+ γδ TCR+ thymocytes were mainly CD44highCD25low cells, which seem to derive from DN4 γδ TCR+ cells that acquired CD44 and IL-17 expression. Our findings identify a novel developmental pathway during which IL-17-competent γδ T cells arise in the thymus by a TGFβ1-dependent mechanism.
γδ T cells; IL-17; TGFβ
After developing in the thymus, recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) enter the lymphoid periphery and undergo a maturation process as they transition into the mature naïve (MN) T cell compartment. This maturation presumably shapes RTEs into a pool of T cells best fit to function robustly in the periphery without causing autoimmunity; however, the mechanism and consequences of this maturation process remain unknown. Using a transgenic mouse system that specifically labels RTEs, we tested the influence of MHC molecules, key drivers of intrathymic T cell selection and naive peripheral T cell homeostasis, in shaping the RTE pool in the lymphoid periphery. We found that the TCRs expressed by RTEs are skewed to longer CDR3 regions compared to those of MN T cells, suggesting that MHC does streamline the TCR repertoire of T cells as they transition from the RTE to the MN T cell stage. This conclusion is borne out in studies in which the representation of individual TCRs was followed as a function of time since thymic egress. Surprisingly, we found that MHC is dispensable for the phenotypic and functional maturation of RTEs.
This is an author-produced version of a manuscript accepted for publication in The Journal of Immunology (The JI). The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. (AAI), publisher of The JI, holds the copyright to this manuscript. This version of the manuscript has not yet been copyedited or subjected to editorial proofreading by The JI; hence, it may differ from the final version published in The JI (online and in print). AAI (The JI) is not liable for errors or omissions in this author-produced version of the manuscript or in any version derived from it by the U.S. National Institutes of Health or any other third party. The final, citable version of record can be found at www.jimmunol.org
T cells; Cell Differentiation; Repertoire Development; Recent Thymic Emigrants; Homeostasis
Mutations in the LMNA gene, which encodes all A-type lamins, result in a variety of human diseases termed laminopathies. Lmna-/- mice appear normal at birth but become runted as early as 2 weeks of age and develop multiple tissue defects that mimic some aspects of human laminopathies. Lmna-/- mice also display smaller spleens and thymuses. In this study, we investigated whether altered lymphoid organ sizes are correlated with specific defects in lymphocyte development.
Lmna-/- mice displayed severe age-dependent defects in T and B cell development which coincided with runting. Lmna-/- bone marrow reconstituted normal T and B cell development in irradiated wild-type recipients, driving generation of functional and self-MHC restricted CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Transplantation of Lmna-/- neonatal thymus lobes into syngeneic wild-type recipients resulted in good engraftment of thymic tissue and normal thymocyte development.
Collectively, these data demonstrate that the severe defects in lymphocyte development that characterize Lmna-/- mice do not result directly from the loss of A-type lamin function in lymphocytes or thymic stroma. Instead, the immune defects in Lmna-/- mice likely reflect indirect damage, perhaps resulting from prolonged stress due to the striated muscle dystrophies that occur in these mice.
T cell development, originally thought to be completed in the thymus, has recently been shown to continue for several weeks in the lymphoid periphery. The forces that drive this peripheral maturation are unclear. The use of mice transgenic for GFP driven by the RAG2 promoter has enabled the ready identification and analysis of recent thymic emigrants (RTEs). Here, we show that RTE maturation is a progressive process and is promoted by T cell exit from the thymus. Further, we show that this maturation occurs within secondary lymphoid organs and does not require extensive lymphocyte recirculation.
T cells; Thymus; Spleen and Lymph Nodes; Tolerance; Cell Differentiation
The thymus has long been known as the generative organ for the T cell arm of the immune system. To perform this role, the thymus was thought to require protection from antigenic and cellular insult from the “outside world”, with the notable exception of the continual influx of progenitor cells required to initiate the complicated process of T cell differentiation. Overwhelming evidence that mature T cells can recirculate and persist in the thymus has required us to revamp this earlier view of the thymus as detached from outside influence. In this review, we consider the evidence for T cell recirculation into the thymus, discuss the likely means and location of mature T cell entry, and speculate on the potential consequences of such close apposition between differentiating thymocytes and mature recirculating lymphocytes.
thymus; T cell recirculation; negative selection; positive selection
Fas (Apo-1, CD95) receptor has been suggested to control T cell expansion by triggering T cell-autonomous apoptosis. This paradigm is based on the extensive lymphoproliferation and systemic autoimmunity in mice and humans lacking Fas or its ligand. However, with systemic loss of Fas, it is unclear whether T cell-extrinsic mechanisms contribute to autoimmunity. We found that tissue-specific deletion of Fas in mouse antigen presenting cells (APC) was sufficient to cause systemic autoimmunity, implying that normally APC are destroyed during immune responses via a Fas-mediated mechanism. Fas expression by APC was increased by exposure to microbial stimuli. Analysis of mice with Fas loss restricted to T cells revealed that Fas indeed controls autoimmune T cells, but not T cells responding to strong antigenic stimulation. Thus, Fas-dependent elimination of APC is a major regulatory mechanism curbing autoimmune responses and acts in concert with Fas-mediated regulation of chronically activated autoimmune T cells.
MyD88 is an adapter protein required for the induction of proinflammatory cytokines by most Toll-like receptors (TLR), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa expresses ligands for multiple TLRs. MyD88−/− (KO) mice are highly susceptible to aerosolized P. aeruginosa, failing to elicit an early inflammatory response and permitting a 3-log increase in bacterial CFU in the lungs by 24 h after infection. We hypothesized that alveolar macrophages are the first cells to recognize and kill aerosolized P. aeruginosa in an MyD88-dependent fashion due to their location within the airways. To determine which cells in the lungs mediate MyD88-dependent defenses against P. aeruginosa, we generated radiation bone marrow (BM) chimeras between MyD88KO and wild-type (WT) mice. MyD88KO mice transplanted with MyD88KO BM (MyD88KO→MyD88KO mice) displayed uncontrolled bacterial replication, whereas all other chimeras controlled the infection by 24 h. However, at 4 h, both MyD88KO→MyD88KO and WT→MyD88KO mice permitted intrapulmonary bacterial replication, whereas MyD88KO→WT and WT→WT mice did not, indicating that the source of BM had little impact on the early control of infection. Similarly, the genotype of the recipient rather than that of the BM donor determined early neutrophil recruitment to the lungs. Whereas intrapulmonary TNF-α and IL-1β production were associated with WT BM, levels of the CXC chemokines MIP-2 and KC as well as GM-CSF were associated with recipient genotype. We conclude that lung parenchymal and BM-derived cells collaborate in the MyD88-dependent response to P. aeruginosa infection in the lungs in mice.
alveolar macrophages; lung parenchyma; MyD88; neutrophils; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Toll-like receptors