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J Immunol. 2007 Jan 1;178(1):280-90.

IL-2 receptor beta-dependent STAT5 activation is required for the development of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


IL-2(-/-) mice develop autoimmunity despite having relatively normal numbers of regulatory T cells (Tregs). In contrast, we demonstrate that IL-2(-/-) x IL-15(-/-) and IL-2Rbeta(-/-) mice have a significant decrease in Treg numbers. Ectopic expression of foxp3 in a subset of CD4(+) T cells rescued Treg development and prevented autoimmunity in IL-2Rbeta(-/-) mice, suggesting that IL-2Rbeta-dependent signals regulate foxp3 expression in Tregs. Subsequent analysis of IL-2Rbeta-dependent signal transduction pathways established that the transcription factor STAT5 is necessary and sufficient for Treg development. Specifically, T cell-specific deletion of STAT5 prevented Treg development; conversely, reconstitution of IL-2Rbeta(-/-) mice with bone marrow cells expressing an IL-2Rbeta mutant that exclusively activates STAT5 restored Treg development. Finally, STAT5 binds to the promoter of the foxp3 gene suggesting that IL-2Rbeta-dependent STAT5 activation promotes Treg differentiation by regulating expression of foxp3.

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