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J Immunol. 2019 Dec 15;203(12):3166-3178. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1900848. Epub 2019 Nov 13.

Efficient CRISPR/Cas9 Disruption of Autoimmune-Associated Genes Reveals Key Signaling Programs in Primary Human T Cells.

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Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98101.
Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Seattle, WA 98101.
Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98101;
Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109; and.
Department of Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109.


Risk of autoimmunity is associated with multiple genetic variants. Genome-wide association studies have linked single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the phosphatases PTPN22 (rs2476601) and PTPN2 (rs1893217) to increased risk for multiple autoimmune diseases. Previous mouse studies of loss of function or risk variants in these genes revealed hyperactive T cell responses, whereas studies of human lymphocytes revealed contrasting phenotypes. To better understand this dichotomy, we established a robust gene editing platform to rapidly address the consequences of loss of function of candidate genes in primary human CD4+ T cells. Using CRISPR/Cas9, we obtained efficient gene disruption (>80%) of target genes encoding proteins involved in Ag and cytokine receptor signaling pathways including PTPN22 and PTPN2 Loss-of-function data in all genes studied correlated with previous data from mouse models. Further analyses of PTPN2 gene-disrupted T cells demonstrated dynamic effects, by which hyperactive IL-2R signaling promoted compensatory transcriptional events, eventually resulting in T cells that were hyporesponsive to IL-2. These results imply that altered phosphatase activity promotes evolving phenotypes based on Ag experience and/or other programming signals. This approach enables the discovery of molecular mechanisms modulating risk of autoimmunity that have been difficult to parse in traditional mouse models or cross-sectional human studies.

[Available on 2020-12-15]

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