T reg cells bearing a diverse antigen receptor repertoire suppress pathogenic T cells and maintain immune homeostasis during their long lifespan. How their robust function is determined genetically remains elusive. Here, we investigate the regulatory space of the cis-regulatory elements of T reg lineage–specifying factor Foxp3. Foxp3 enhancers are known as distinct readers of environmental cues controlling T reg cell induction or lineage stability. However, their single deficiencies cause mild, if any, immune dysregulation, leaving the key transcriptional mechanisms determining Foxp3 expression and thereby T reg cell suppressive capacity uncertain. We examined the collective activities of Foxp3 enhancers and found that they coordinate to maximize T reg cell induction, Foxp3 expression level, or lineage stability through distinct modes and that ablation of synergistic enhancers leads to lethal autoimmunity in young mice. Thus, the induction and maintenance of a diverse, stable T reg cell repertoire rely on combinatorial Foxp3 enhancers, suggesting broad, stage-specific, synergistic activities of cell-intrinsic factors and cell-extrinsic cues in determining T reg cell suppressive capacity.
Foxp3 enhancers synergize to maximize regulatory T cell suppressive capacity
Disclosures: The authors declare no competing interests exist.
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Xinying Zong, Xiaolei Hao, Beisi Xu, Jeremy Chase Crawford, Shaela Wright, Jun Li, Yang Zhang, Lu Bai, Minghong He, Menglin Jiang, Yiping Fan, Jon P. Connelly, Shondra M. Pruett-Miller, Hartmut Berns, Laura Janke, Chunliang Li, Yongqiang Feng; Foxp3 enhancers synergize to maximize regulatory T cell suppressive capacity. J Exp Med 2 August 2021; 218 (8): e20202415. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20202415
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