Posttranslational modification with SUMO is known to regulate the activity of transcription factors, but how SUMOylation of individual proteins might influence immunity is largely unexplored. The NFAT transcription factors play an essential role in antigen receptor-mediated gene regulation. SUMOylation of NFATc1 represses IL-2 in vitro, but its role in T cell–mediated immune responses in vivo is unclear. To this end, we generated a novel transgenic mouse in which SUMO modification of NFATc1 is prevented. Avoidance of NFATc1 SUMOylation ameliorated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis as well as graft-versus-host disease. Elevated IL-2 production in T cells promoted T reg expansion and suppressed autoreactive or alloreactive immune responses. Mechanistically, increased IL-2 secretion counteracted IL-17 and IFN-γ expression through STAT5 and Blimp-1 induction. Then, Blimp-1 repressed IL-2 itself, as well as the induced, proliferation-associated survival factor Bcl2A1. Collectively, these data demonstrate that prevention of NFATc1 SUMOylation fine-tunes T cell responses toward lasting tolerance. Thus, targeting NFATc1 SUMOylation presents a novel and promising strategy to treat T cell–mediated inflammatory diseases.

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