Resting central Tregs (cTregs) and activated effector Tregs (eTregs) are required for self-tolerance, but the heterogeneity and relationships within and between phenotypically distinct subsets of cTregs and eTregs are poorly understood. By extensive immune profiling and deep sequencing of TCR-b V regions, two subsets of cTregs, based on expression of Ly-6C, and three subsets of eTregs, based on distinctive expression of CD62L, CD69, and CD103, were identified. Ly-6C+ cTregs exhibited lower basal activation, expressed on average lower affinity TCRs, and less efficiently developed into eTregs when compared with Ly-6C2 cTregs. The dominant TCR Vbs of Ly-6C+ cTregs were shared by eTregs at a low frequency. A single TCR clonotype was also identified that was largely restricted to Ly-6C+ cTregs, even under conditions that promoted the development of eTregs. Collectively, these findings indicate that some Ly-6C+ cTregs may persist as a lymphoid-specific subset, with minimal potential to develop into highly activated eTregs, whereas other cTregs readily develop into eTregs. In contrast, subsets of CD62Llo eTregs showed higher clonal expansion and were more highly interrelated than cTreg subsets based on their TCR-b repertoires, but exhibited varied immune profiles. The CD62Llo CD692 CD1032 eTreg subset displayed properties of a transitional intermediate between cTregs and more activated eTreg subsets. Thus, eTreg subsets appear to exhibit substantial flexibility, most likely in response to environmental cues, to adopt defined immune profiles that are expected to optimize suppression of autoreactive T cells.
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