Molecular Mechanisms Underlying FOXP3 Induction in Human T Cells

Mantel PY, Ouaked N, Ruckert B, Karagiannidis C, Welz R, Blaser K, Schmidt-Weber CB
Source: J Immunol
Publication Date: (2006)
Issue: 176(6): 3593-602
Research Area:
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
T cell, human peripheral blood unstim.
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
T cell, human stim.
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
FOXP3 is playing an essential role for T regulatory cells and is involved in the molecular mechanisms controlling immune tolerance. Although the biological relevance of this transcription factor is well documented, the pathways responsible for its induction are still unclear. The current study reveals structure and function of the human FOXP3 promoter, revealing essential molecular mechanisms of its induction. The FOXP3 promoter was defined by RACE, cloned, and functionally analyzed using reporter-gene constructs in primary human T cells. The analysis revealed the basal, T cell-specific promoter with a TATA and CAAT box 6000 bp upstream the translation start site. The basal promoter contains six NF-AT and AP-1 binding sites, which are positively regulating the trans activation of the FOXP3 promoter after triggering of the TCR. The chromatin region containing the FOXP3 promoter was bound by NF-ATc2 under these conditions. Furthermore, FOXP3 expression was observed following TCR engagement. Promoter activity, mRNA, and protein expression of T cells were suppressed by addition of cyclosporin A. Taken together, this study reveals the structure of the human FOXP3 promoter and provides new insights in mechanisms of addressing T regulatory cell-inducing signals useful for promoting immune tolerance. Furthermore, the study identifies essential, positive regulators of the FOXP3 gene and highlights cyclosporin A as an inhibitor of FOXP3 expression contrasting other immunosuppressants such as steroids or rapamycin.