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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45115. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045115. Epub 2012 Sep 12.

Runx1 and Runx3 are involved in the generation and function of highly suppressive IL-17-producing T regulatory cells.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology and Cancer Biology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


CD4(+)Foxp3(+) T regulatory cells (Tregs) display phenotypic and functional plasticity that is regulated by cytokines and other immune cells. Previously, we determined that during co-culture with CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells and antigen presenting cells, Tregs produced IL-17. Here, we investigated the mechanisms underlying the differentiation of IL-17-producing Treg (Tr17) cells and their molecular and functional properties. We determined that during stimulation via TCR/CD3 and CD28, the combination of IL-1β and IL-2 was necessary and sufficient for the generation of Tr17 cells. Tr17 cells expressed Runx1 transcription factor, which was required for sustained expression of Foxp3 and RORγt and for production of IL-17. Surprisingly, Tr17 cells also expressed Runx3, which regulated transcription of perforin and granzyme B thereby mediating cytotoxic activity. Our studies indicate that Tr17 cells concomitantly express Foxp3, RORγt, Runx1 and Runx3 and are capable of producing IL-17 while mediating potent suppressive and cytotoxic function.

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