Essential and non-overlapping IL-2Rα-dependent processes for thymic development and peripheral homeostasis of regulatory T cells

Kevin H. Toomer, Jen Bon Lui, Norman H. Altman, Yuguang Ban, Xi Chen, Thomas Malek

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1 Scopus citations


IL-2R signaling is essential for regulatory T cell (Treg) function. However, the precise contribution of IL-2 during Treg thymic development, peripheral homeostasis and lineage stability remains unclear. Here we show that IL-2R signaling is required by thymic Tregs at an early step for expansion and survival, and a later step for functional maturation. Using inducible, conditional deletion of CD25 in peripheral Tregs, we also find that IL-2R signaling is indispensable for Treg homeostasis, whereas Treg lineage stability is largely IL-2-independent. CD25 knockout peripheral Tregs have increased apoptosis, oxidative stress, signs of mitochondrial dysfunction, and reduced transcription of key enzymes of lipid and cholesterol biosynthetic pathways. A divergent IL-2R transcriptional signature is noted for thymic Tregs versus peripheral Tregs. These data indicate that IL-2R signaling in the thymus and the periphery leads to distinctive effects on Treg function, while peripheral Treg survival depends on a non-conventional mechanism of metabolic regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1037
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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