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J Immunol. 2017 Nov 15;199(10):3700-3710. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700380. Epub 2017 Oct 18.

T Cell-Derived CD70 Delivers an Immune Checkpoint Function in Inflammatory T Cell Responses.

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Department of Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263.
Department of Pathology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263; and.
Department of Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263.
Department of Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263;


The CD27-CD70 pathway is known to provide a costimulatory signal, with CD70 expressed on APCs and CD27 functions on T cells. Although CD70 is also expressed on activated T cells, it remains unclear how T cell-derived CD70 affects T cell function. Therefore, we have assessed the role of T cell-derived CD70 using adoptive-transfer models, including autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease and allogeneic graft-versus-host disease. Surprisingly, compared with wild-type T cells, CD70-/- T cells caused more severe inflammatory bowel disease and graft-versus-host disease and produced higher levels of inflammatory cytokines. Mechanistic analyses reveal that IFN-γ induces CD70 expression in T cells, and CD70 limits T cell expansion via a regulatory T cell-independent mechanism that involves caspase-dependent T cell apoptosis and upregulation of inhibitory immune checkpoint molecules. Notably, T cell-intrinsic CD70 signaling contributes, as least in part, to the inhibitory checkpoint function. Overall, our findings demonstrate for the first time, to our knowledge, that T cell-derived CD70 plays a novel immune checkpoint role in inhibiting inflammatory T cell responses. This study suggests that T cell-derived CD70 performs a critical negative feedback function to downregulate inflammatory T cell responses.

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