• CD8+ Foxp3+ T cells share developmental and phenotypic features with classical CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells but lack potent suppressive activity.

      Mayer, Christian T; Floess, Stefan; Baru, Abdul Mannan; Lahl, Katharina; Huehn, Jochen; Sparwasser, Tim (2011-03)
      "Suppressor T cells" were historically defined within the CD8(+) T-cell compartment and recent studies have highlighted several naturally occurring CD8(+) Foxp3(-) Treg populations. However, the relevance of CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells, which represent a minor population in both thymi and secondary lymphoid organs of nonmanipulated mice, remains unclear. We here demonstrate that de novo Foxp3 induction in peripheral CD8(+) Foxp3(-) T cells is counter-regulated by DC-mediated co-stimulation via CD80/CD86. CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells fail to develop in TCR-transgenic mice with Rag1(-/-) background, similar to classical CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Tregs. Notably, both naturally occurring and induced CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells express bona fide Treg markers including CD25, GITR, CTLA4 and CD103, and show defective IFN-γ production upon restimulation when compared with their CD8(+) Foxp3(-) counterparts. However, utilizing DEREG transgenic mice for the isolation of Foxp3(+) cells by eGFP reporter expression, we demonstrate that induced CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells similar to activated CD8(+) Foxp3(-) T cells only mildly suppress T-cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. We therefore categorize CD8(+) Foxp3(+) T cells as a tightly controlled population sharing certain developmental and phenotypic properties with classical CD4(+) Foxp3(+) Tregs, but lacking potent suppressive activity.
    • Development of a unique epigenetic signature during in vivo Th17 differentiation.

      Yang, Bi-Huei; Floess, Stefan; Hagemann, Stefanie; Deyneko, Igor V; Groebe, Lothar; Pezoldt, Joern; Sparwasser, Tim; Lochner, Matthias; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-02-18)
      Activated naive CD4(+) T cells are highly plastic cells that can differentiate into various T helper (Th) cell fates characterized by the expression of effector cytokines like IFN-γ (Th1), IL-4 (Th2) or IL-17A (Th17). Although previous studies have demonstrated that epigenetic mechanisms including DNA demethylation can stabilize effector cytokine expression, a comprehensive analysis of the changes in the DNA methylation pattern during differentiation of naive T cells into Th cell subsets is lacking. Hence, we here performed a genome-wide methylome analysis of ex vivo isolated naive CD4(+) T cells, Th1 and Th17 cells. We could demonstrate that naive CD4(+) T cells share more demethylated regions with Th17 cells when compared to Th1 cells, and that overall Th17 cells display the highest number of demethylated regions, findings which are in line with the previously reported plasticity of Th17 cells. We could identify seven regions located in Il17a, Zfp362, Ccr6, Acsbg1, Dpp4, Rora and Dclk1 showing pronounced demethylation selectively in ex vivo isolated Th17 cells when compared to other ex vivo isolated Th cell subsets and in vitro generated Th17 cells, suggesting that this unique epigenetic signature allows identifying and functionally characterizing in vivo generated Th17 cells.
    • Promiscuous Foxp3-cre activity reveals a differential requirement for CD28 in Foxp3⁺ and Foxp3⁻ T cells.

      Franckaert, Dean; Dooley, James; Roos, Evelyne; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Luche, Herve; Fehling, Hans Joerg; Liston, Adrian; Linterman, Michelle A; Schlenner, Susan M; et al. (2015-04)
      Costimulatory signals by CD28 are critical for thymic regulatory T-cell (Treg) development. To determine the functional relevance of CD28 for peripheral Treg post thymic selection, we crossed the widely used Forkhead box protein 3 (Foxp3)-CreYFP mice to mice bearing a conditional Cd28 allele. Treg-specific CD28 deficiency provoked a severe autoimmune syndrome as a result of a strong disadvantage in competitive fitness and proliferation of CD28-deficient Tregs. By contrast, Treg survival and lineage integrity were not affected by the lack of CD28. This data demonstrate that, even after the initial induction requirement, Treg maintain a higher dependency on CD28 signalling than conventional T cells for homeostasis. In addition, we found the Foxp3-CreYFP allele to be a hypomorph, with reduced Foxp3 protein levels. Furthermore, we report here the stochastic activity of the Foxp3-CreYFP allele in non-Tregs, sufficient to recombine some conditional alleles (including Cd28) but not others (including R26-RFP). This hypomorphism and 'leaky' expression of the Foxp3-CreYFP allele should be considered when analysing the conditionally mutated Treg.