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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2013 Apr;29(4):641-51. doi: 10.1089/aid.2012.0322. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Feline glycoprotein A repetitions predominant anchors transforming growth factor beta on the surface of activated CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells and mediates AIDS lentivirus-induced T cell immunodeficiency.

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Immunology Program, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA.


Using the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) model for AIDS-lentivirus infection, our laboratory has previously demonstrated that T regulatory (Treg) cell-mediated immune T and B cell dysfunction contributes to lentivirus persistence and chronic disease through membrane bound transforming growth factor beta (mTGFb). Studying Treg cells in the context of infection has been problematic as no inducible marker for activated Treg cells had been identified. However, recent reports in human Treg studies have described a novel protein, glycoprotein A repetitions predominant (GARP), as a unique marker of activated human Treg cells that anchors mTGFb. Herein we extend these studies to the feline Treg system, identifying feline GARP and demonstrating that human and feline GARP proteins are homologous in structure, expression pattern, and ability to form a complex with TGFb. We further demonstrate that GARP and TGFb form a complex on the surface of activated Treg cells and that these GARP(+)TGFb(+) Treg cells are highly efficient suppressor cells. Analysis of expression of this Treg activation marker in the FIV-AIDS model reveals an up-regulation of GARP expressing Treg cells during chronic FIV infection. We demonstrate that the GARP(+) Treg cells from FIV-infected cats suppress T helper cells in vivo and that blocking GARP or TGFb eliminates this suppression. These data suggest that GARP is expressed in complex with TGFb on the surface of activated Treg cells and plays an important role in TGFb(+) Treg-mediated T cell immune suppression during lentivirus infection.

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