• c-FLIP Expression in Foxp3-Expressing Cells Is Essential for Survival of Regulatory T Cells and Prevention of Autoimmunity.

      Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Schuster, Marc; Neumann, Yvonne; Heise, Ulrike; Pils, Marina C; Schulze-Osthoff, Klaus; Schmitz, Ingo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-03)
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells are critical for the shutdown of immune responses and have emerged as valuable targets of immunotherapies. Treg cells can rapidly proliferate; however, the homeostatic processes that limit excessive Treg cell numbers are poorly understood. Here, we show that, compared to conventional T cells, Treg cells have a high apoptosis rate ex vivo correlating with low c-FLIP expression. Treg-specific deletion of c-FLIP in mice resulted in fatal autoimmune disease of a scurfy-like phenotype characterized by absent peripheral Treg cells, activation of effector cells, multi-organ immune cell infiltration, and premature death. Surprisingly, blocking CD95L did not rescue Treg survival in vivo, suggesting additional survival functions of c-FLIP in Treg cells in addition to its classical role in the inhibition of death receptor signaling. Thus, our data reveal a central role for c-FLIP in Treg cell homeostasis and prevention of autoimmunity.