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J Immunol. 2008 Feb 15;180(4):2149-57.

CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell repertoire formation shaped by differential presentation of peptides from a self-antigen.

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  • 1The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


We have used TCR transgenic mice directed to different MHC class II-restricted determinants from the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) to analyze how specificity for self-peptides can shape CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cell formation. We show that substantial increases in the number of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells can occur when an autoreactive TCR directed to a major I-E(d)-restricted determinant from HA develops in mice expressing HA as a self-Ag, and that the efficiency of this process is largely unaffected by the ability to coexpress additional TCR alpha-chains. This increased formation of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells in the presence of the self-peptide argues against models that postulate selective survival rather than induced formation as mechanisms of CD4+CD25+ Treg cell formation. In contrast, T cells bearing a TCR directed to a major I-A(d)-restricted determinant from HA underwent little or no selection to become CD4+CD25+ Treg cells in mice expressing HA as a self-Ag, correlating with inefficient processing and presentation of the peptide from the neo-self-HA polypeptide. These findings show that interactions with a self-peptide can induce thymocytes to differentiate along a pathway to become CD4+CD25+ Treg cells, and that peptide editing by DM molecules may help bias the CD4+CD25+ Treg cell repertoire away from self-peptides that associate weakly with MHC class II molecules.

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