TGF-β signalling is required for CD4⁺ T cell homeostasis but dispensable for regulatory T cell function.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

TGF-β is widely held to be critical for the maintenance and function of regulatory T (T(reg)) cells and thus peripheral tolerance. This is highlighted by constitutive ablation of TGF-β receptor (TR) during thymic development in mice, which leads to a lethal autoimmune syndrome. Here we describe that TGF-β-driven peripheral tolerance is not regulated by TGF-β signalling on mature CD4⁺ T cells. Inducible TR2 ablation specifically on CD4⁺ T cells did not result in a lethal autoinflammation. Transfer of these TR2-deficient CD4⁺ T cells to lymphopenic recipients resulted in colitis, but not overt autoimmunity. In contrast, thymic ablation of TR2 in combination with lymphopenia led to lethal multi-organ inflammation. Interestingly, deletion of TR2 on mature CD4⁺ T cells does not result in the collapse of the T(reg) cell population as observed in constitutive models. Instead, a pronounced enlargement of both regulatory and effector memory T cell pools was observed. This expansion is cell-intrinsic and seems to be caused by increased T cell receptor sensitivity independently of common gamma chain-dependent cytokine signals. The expression of Foxp3 and other regulatory T cells markers was not dependent on TGF-β signalling and the TR2-deficient T(reg) cells retained their suppressive function both in vitro and in vivo. In summary, absence of TGF-β signalling on mature CD4⁺ T cells is not responsible for breakdown of peripheral tolerance, but rather controls homeostasis of mature T cells in adult mice.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sledzińska, A; Hemmers, S; Mair, F; Gorka, O; Ruland, J; Fairbairn, L; Nissler, A; Müller, W; Waisman, A; Becher, B; Buch, T

Published Date

  • October 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / 10

Start / End Page

  • e1001674 -

PubMed ID

  • 24115907

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3792861

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1545-7885

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001674


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States