The Sle1 locus is a key determinant of lupus susceptibility in the NZM2410 mouse model. Within Sle1, we have previously shown that Sle1a expression enhances activation levels and effector functions of CD4+ T cells and reduces the size of the CD4+ CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cell subset, leading to the production of autoreactive T cells that provide help to chromatin-specific B cells. In this study, we show that Sle1a CD4+ T cells express high levels of ICOS, which is consistent with their increased ability to help autoreactive B cells. Furthermore, Sle1a CD4+CD25+ T cells express low levels of Foxp3. Mixed bone marrow chimeras demonstrated that these phenotypes require Sle1a to be expressed in the affected CD4+ T cells. Expression of other markers generally associated with regulatory T cells (Tregs) was similar regardless of Sle1a expression in Foxp3+ cells. This result, along with in vitro and in vivo suppression studies, suggests that Sle1a controls the number of Tregs rather than their function on a per cell basis. Both in vitro and in vivo suppression assays also showed that Sle1a expression induced effector T cells to be resistant to Treg suppression, as well as dendritic cells to overproduce IL-6, which inhibits Treg suppression. Overall, these results show that Sle1a controls both Treg number and function by multiple mechanisms, directly on the Tregs themselves and indirectly through the response of effector T cells and the regulatory role of dendritic cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy