RORγ+ and Helios+ Treg cells in the colon are phenotypically and functionally distinct, but their origins and relationships are poorly understood. In monocolonized and normal mice, single-cell RNA-seq revealed sharing of TCR clonotypes between these Treg cell populations, potentially denoting a common progenitor. In a polyclonal Treg cell replacement system, naive conventional CD4+ (Tconv) cells, but not pre-existing tTregs, could differentiate into RORγ+ pTregs upon interaction with gut microbiota. A smaller proportion of Tconv cells converted into Helios+ pTreg cells, but these dominated when the Tconv cells originated from preweaning mice. T cells from infant mice were predominantly immature, insensitive to RORγ-inducing bacterial cues and to IL6, and showed evidence of higher TCR-transmitted signals, which are also characteristics of recent thymic emigrants (RTEs). Correspondingly, transfer of adult RTEs or Nur77high Tconv cells mainly yielded Helios+ pTreg cells, recapitulating the infant/adult difference. Thus, CD4+ Tconv cells can differentiate into both RORγ+ and Helios+ pTreg cells, providing a physiological adaptation of colonic Treg cells as a function of the age of the cell or of the individual.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
You do not currently have access to this content.