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Eur J Immunol. 2010 Nov;40(11):2993-3006. doi: 10.1002/eji.201040936. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Persistence of effector memory Th1 cells is regulated by Hopx.

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German Rheumatism Research Center Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Th1 cells are prominent in inflamed tissue, survive conventional immunosuppression, and are believed to play a pivotal role in driving chronic inflammation. Here, we identify homeobox only protein (Hopx) as a critical and selective regulator of the survival of Th1 effector/memory cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Expression of Hopx is induced by T-bet and increases upon repeated antigenic restimulation of Th1 cells. Accordingly, the expression of Hopx is low in peripheral, naïve Th cells, but highly up-regulated in terminally differentiated effector/memory Th1 cells of healthy human donors. In murine Th1 cells, Hopx regulates the expression of genes involved in regulation of apoptosis and survival and makes them refractory to Fas-induced apoptosis. In vivo, adoptively transferred Hopx-deficient murine Th1 cells do not persist. Consequently, they cannot induce chronic inflammation in murine models of transfer-induced colitis and arthritis, demonstrating a key role of Hopx for Th1-mediated immunopathology.

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