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Maintaining Suppression

  October, 19 2005 10:25
your information resource in human molecular genetics
Autoimmune pathology often occurs because some immune cells are not regulated properly. This important function is usually the responsibility of a special class of cells called regulatory T cells (Treg cells). A pair of new reports in the November issue of Nature Immunology show that Treg cells require the immune modulator interleukin 2 (IL-2) for their maintenance and long-term function rather than for development, as previously thought.

How Treg cells develop has been worked out in some detail and the prevailing model included a fundamental function for IL-2. In fact, for many years, Treg cells were identified exclusively on the basis of expression of the IL-2 receptor. But the new studies by Alexander Rudensky and Ludger Klein rely instead on identifying Treg cells by a different molecule, Foxp3.

Using this identifier, both Rudensky and Klein unexpectedly demonstrate that IL-2 signals are not required for Treg cell development. Instead, IL-2 is required for the maintenance of Treg cells after they leave the thymus and move into the circulation. This new model for the function of IL-2 will help scientists understand how this critically important class of suppressor cells keeps immunopathology at bay.

Author contact:

Alexander Rudensky (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA)
E-mail: aruden@u.washington.edu

Ludger Klein (Research Institute Of Molecular Pathology, Vienna, Austria)
E-mail: klein@nt.imp.univie.ac.at

Additional contact for comments on paper:

Fiona Powrie (Oxford University, UK)
E-mail: fiona.powrie@path.ox.ac.uk

Abstracts available online: Paper 1, and Paper 2.

(C) Nature Immunology press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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