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Immunity. 2009 Jan 16;30(1):80-91. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.11.010.

Foxp3-dependent microRNA155 confers competitive fitness to regulatory T cells by targeting SOCS1 protein.

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Department of Immunology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Foxp3(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells limit pathogenic immune responses to self-antigens and foreign antigens. An essential role for microRNA (miRNA) in the maintenance and function of Treg cells, revealed by the Treg cell-specific Dicer ablation, raised a question as to a specific miRNA contribution. We found that Foxp3 controlled the elevated miR155 expression required for maintaining Treg cell proliferative activity and numbers under nonlymphopenic conditions. Moreover, miR155 deficiency in Treg cells resulted in increased suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) expression accompanied by impaired activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) transcription factor in response to limiting amounts of interleukin-2. Our studies suggest that Foxp3-dependent regulation of miR155 maintains competitive fitness of Treg cell subsets by targeting SOCS1, and they provide experimental support for a proposed role for miRNAs in ensuring the robustness of cellular phenotypes.

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