• Blimp1 Prevents Methylation of Foxp3 and Loss of Regulatory T Cell Identity at Sites of Inflammation.

      Garg, Garima; Muschaweckh, Andreas; Moreno, Helena; Vasanthakumar, Ajithkumar; Floess, Stefan; Lepennetier, Gildas; Oellinger, Rupert; Zhan, Yifan; Regen, Tommy; Hiltensperger, Michael; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2019-02-12)
      Summary Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells restrict immune pathology in inflamed tissues; however, an inflammatory environment presents a threat to Treg cell identity and function. Here, we establish a transcriptional signature of central nervous system (CNS) Treg cells that accumulate during experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) and identify a pathway that maintains Treg cell function and identity during severe inflammation. This pathway is dependent on the transcriptional regulator Blimp1, which prevents downregulation of Foxp3 expression and “toxic” gain-of-function of Treg cells in the inflamed CNS. Blimp1 negatively regulates IL-6- and STAT3-dependent Dnmt3a expression and function restraining methylation of Treg cell-specific conserved non-coding sequence 2 (CNS2) in the Foxp3 locus. Consequently, CNS2 is heavily methylated when Blimp1 is ablated, leading to a loss of Foxp3 expression and severe disease. These findings identify a Blimp1-dependent pathway that preserves Treg cell stability in inflamed non-lymphoid tissues.
    • The Transcription Factor MAZR/PATZ1 Regulates the Development of FOXP3 Regulatory T Cells.

      Andersen, Liisa; Gülich, Alexandra Franziska; Alteneder, Marlis; Preglej, Teresa; Orola, Maria Jonah; Dhele, Narendra; Stolz, Valentina; Schebesta, Alexandra; Hamminger, Patricia; Hladik, Anastasiya; et al. (Elsevier/ Cel Press, 2019-12-24)
      Forkhead box protein P3+ (FOXP3+) regulatory T cells (Treg cells) play a key role in maintaining tolerance and immune homeostasis. Here, we report that a T cell-specific deletion of the transcription factor MAZR (also known as PATZ1) leads to an increased frequency of Treg cells, while enforced MAZR expression impairs Treg cell differentiation. Further, MAZR expression levels are progressively downregulated during thymic Treg cell development and during in-vitro-induced human Treg cell differentiation, suggesting that MAZR protein levels are critical for controlling Treg cell development. However, MAZR-deficient Treg cells show only minor transcriptional changes ex vivo, indicating that MAZR is not essential for establishing the transcriptional program of peripheral Treg cells. Finally, the loss of MAZR reduces the clinical score in dextran-sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis, suggesting that MAZR activity in T cells controls the extent of intestinal inflammation. Together, these data indicate that MAZR is part of a Treg cell-intrinsic transcriptional network that modulates Treg cell development.