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PLoS One. 2017 Dec 22;12(12):e0188112. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188112. eCollection 2017.

Forced expression of IL-7R promotes CD8 T cell cytotoxicity to self antigen.

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Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.


Cross-presentation of apoptotic cell associated antigens by immature dendritic cells prevents the activation of self reactive CD8 T cells. Tolerized self reactive CD8 T cells down-regulate IL-7R expression on their surface. Whether over-expression of IL-7R can reverse their fate and function has not been examined. In this paper, we showed forced expression of IL-7R in OT-I T cells by a transgene enhanced CD8 T cell mediated diabetes in the RIP-mOVA model. Although IL-7R Tg (transgenic) did not completely reverse the deletion of OT-I T cells, it provided a significant survival advantage over w.t OT-I T cells. Furthermore, IL7R Tg OT-I T cells isolated from diabetic pancreata displayed increased production of IFN-γ, higher expression of T-bet, and increased externalization of CD107a. We also found that immature DCs containing apoptotic cells expressed high levels of PDL-1 on their surface. Although IL-7R Tg did not change PD1 expression on activated OT-I cells in vivo, the transgene enabled a significantly lower number of OT-I T cells to induce diabetes in the absence of PDL-1. Our results demonstrated that forced expression of IL-7R not only improved the functionality of tolerized CD8 T cells, it also acted in synergy with PDL-1 deficiency to further promote CD8 T cell cytotoxicity to self antigens.

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