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Nat Immunol. 2016 Mar;17(3):277-85. doi: 10.1038/ni.3365. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Autophagy enforces functional integrity of regulatory T cells by coupling environmental cues and metabolic homeostasis.

Author information

1
Department of Immunology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
2
Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
3
Department of Pathology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
4
Hartwell Center for Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.

Abstract

Regulatory T (Treg) cells respond to immune and inflammatory signals to mediate immunosuppression, but how the functional integrity of Treg cells is maintained under activating environments is unclear. Here we show that autophagy is active in Treg cells and supports their lineage stability and survival fitness. Treg cell-specific deletion of Atg7 or Atg5, two essential genes in autophagy, leads to loss of Treg cells, greater tumor resistance and development of inflammatory disorders. Atg7-deficient Treg cells show increased apoptosis and readily lose expression of the transcription factor Foxp3, especially after activation. Mechanistically, autophagy deficiency upregulates metabolic regulators mTORC1 and c-Myc and glycolysis, which contribute to defective Treg function. Therefore, autophagy couples environmental signals and metabolic homeostasis to protect lineage and survival integrity of Treg cells in activating contexts.

PMID:
26808230
PMCID:
PMC4755832
DOI:
10.1038/ni.3365
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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