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J Immunol. 2006 Mar 15;176(6):3321-9.

TGF-beta requires CTLA-4 early after T cell activation to induce FoxP3 and generate adaptive CD4+CD25+ regulatory cells.

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Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Although positive CD28 costimulation is needed for the generation of natural CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells, we report that negative CTLA-4 costimulation is necessary for generating phenotypically and functionally similar adaptive CD4+CD25+ suppressor cells. TGF-beta could not induce CD4+CD25- cells from CTLA-4(-/-) mice to express normal levels of FoxP3 or to develop suppressor activity. Moreover, blockade of CTLA-4 following activation of wild-type CD4+ cells abolished the ability of TGF-beta to induce FoxP3-expressing mouse suppressor cells. TGF-beta accelerated expression of CTLA-4, and time course studies suggested that CTLA-4 ligation of CD80 shortly after T cell activation enables TGF-beta to induce CD4+CD25- cells to express FoxP3 and develop suppressor activity. TGF-beta also enhanced CD4+ cell expression of CD80. Thus, CTLA-4 has an essential role in the generation of acquired CD4+CD25+ suppressor cells in addition to its other inhibitory effects. Although natural CD4+CD25+ cells develop normally in CTLA-4(-/-) mice, the lack of TGF-beta-induced, peripheral CD4+CD25+ suppressor cells in these mice may contribute to their rapid demise.

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