However, c-Rel−/− mice contained a significantly lower percentage of CD4+Foxp3+ nTreg compared with WT mice (Fig. 2A and B). Further, we examined Treg populations in peripheral lymphoid tissues. Consistent with the phenotype in the thymus, percentages of CD4+Foxp3+ cells in c-Rel−/− mice were also greatly reduced in the spleen and LN as compared with WT mice (Fig. 2A and B). These data, together Selleckchem GS 1101 with our in vitro studies on c-Rel-deficient
iTreg, demonstrate that c-Rel is a critical molecule required for the development of both nTreg and iTreg. Previous studies using IL-2-deficient and IL-2Rα-deficient mice have shown that IL-2 is dispensable for the generation of nTreg in the thymus 26. The absence of IL-2 in the thymus of IL-2-deficient mice is likely to be compensated by IL-15 and IL-7. Interestingly, a profound
reduction in nTreg development was reported in IL-2 and IL-15 double-deficient mice 27. Therefore, we assume that, besides the c-Rel-mediated transcriptional control of IL-2, other mechanisms that regulate the expansion of nTreg may also be defective in c-Rel-deficient mice. Recently, it has been shown that differentiation of TH17 and Treg is interrelated 25. To examine the function of c-Rel during TH17 differentiation, c-Rel−/− CD4+ cells were stimulated via their TCR and CD28 for 3 days in a cytokine milieu optimal for TH17 differentiating conditions or in media alone. Similar IL-17 production and thus TH17 differentiation were observed in the presence Ensartinib cell line and absence of exogenous IL-2 in both c-Rel−/− and WT TH cells (Fig. 3A), as determined by intracellular cytokine staining. Confirming previous reports 24, we observed that addition of exogenous IL-2 resulted in somewhat reduced TH17 development. In the absence of exogenous IL-2, the proportion of c-Rel-deficient IL-17-producing cells was in the same order of magnitude as in WT cells (Fig. 3A). Previously, we have shown that the development of inflammatory TH17 cells is crucially dependent on the transcription Amobarbital factor IRF-4: IRF-4-deficient CD4+ TH were incapable to differentiate into TH17 cells in vitro and in vivo28, 29.
Intriguingly, it was previously reported that in activated lymphocytes, expression of IRF-4 at the RNA level is induced by c-Rel 30. This finding is difficult to be reconciled with normal c-Rel−/− TH17 cell differentiation, as shown in the current publication. However, experiments testing control of IRF-4 expression by c-Rel at the protein level are still missing. Therefore, we examined the protein expression of IRF-4 in c-Rel-deficient splenocytes as well as purified CD4+ TH by western blot analysis. Surprisingly, we found strong expression of IRF-4 in c-Rel−/− splenocytes, probably due to its constitutive expression in B cells (Fig. 3B). Moreover, activation of both WT and c-Rel-deficient CD4+ cells by PMA/ionomycin revealed similarly strong induction of IRF-4 protein after 16 h of culture (Fig. 1C).