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J Immunol. 2006 Nov 1;177(9):6091-7.

TGFbeta protein processing and activity through TCR triggering of primary CD8+ T regulatory cells.

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Department of Immunology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06032, USA.


In general, TGFbeta is synthesized as a procytokine that requires proteolytic activation, release of the mature cytokine from its noncovalently associated latent-associated peptide, and binding to TGFbetaRII to mediate suppressive activity. We tracked this process in mice containing primed CD8 regulatory T cells (Tregs) by immunoblotting in primary whole cell lysates for pro-TGFbeta, latent-associated peptide and mature TGFbeta. Generation of CD8 Tregs promoted processing of the 50 kDa pro-TGFbeta protein into a 12.5 kDa mature TGFbeta species in vivo. Despite the inability to detect mature TGFbeta in the sera of mice with primed CD8 Tregs and in the synthetic culture medium of stimulated CD8 Tregs, we demonstrated engagement of TGFbetaRII through immunoblotting for Smad2 phosphorylation. This process relied on continual TCR triggering, which also induced Smad3 phosphorylation. To understand the movement of mature TGFbeta, we showed that in contrast to IFN-gamma, mature TGFbeta does not remain a soluble cytokine but is likely to be rapidly adsorbed by neighboring cells. These data show the exquisite local control directed toward TGFbeta by the immune system and underscore the fine specificity involved in its detection.

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