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Immunol Cell Biol. 2013 Feb;91(2):173-83. doi: 10.1038/icb.2012.74. Epub 2013 Jan 8.

CD134/CD137 dual costimulation-elicited IFN-γ maximizes effector T-cell function but limits Treg expansion.

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Department of Immunology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030-3710, USA.


T-cell tolerance to tumor antigens represents a major hurdle in generating tumor immunity. Combined administration of agonistic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to the costimulatory receptors CD134 plus CD137 can program T-cells responding to tolerogenic antigen to undergo expansion, and effector T-cell differentiation, and also elicits tumor immunity. Nevertheless, CD134 and CD137 agonists can also engage inhibitory immune components. To understand how immune stimulatory versus inhibitory components are regulated during CD134 plus CD137 dual costimulation (DCo), the current study utilized a model where DCo programs T-cells encountering a highly tolerogenic self-antigen to undergo effector differentiation. IFN-γ was found to have a pivotal role in maximizing the function of effector T-cells, while simultaneously limiting the expansion of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs. In antigen-responding effector T-cells, IFN-γ operates via a direct cell-intrinsic mechanism to cooperate with IL-2 to program maximal expression of granzyme B. Simultaneously, IFN-γ limits expression of the IL-2 receptor alpha chain (CD25) and IL-2 signaling through a mechanism that does not involve T-bet-mediated repression of IL-2. IFN-γ also limited CD25 and Foxp3 expression on bystanding CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs, and limited the potential of these Tregs to expand. These effects could not be explained by the ability of IFN-γ to limit IL-2 availability. Taken together, during DCo IFN-γ interacts with IL-2 through distinct mechanisms to program maximal expression of effector molecules in antigen-responding T-cells, while simultaneously limiting Treg expansion.

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