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Foxp3 programs the development and function of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells.

CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells are essential for the active suppression of autoimmunity. Here we report that the forkhead transcription factor Foxp3 is specifically expressed in CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells and is required for their development. The lethal autoimmune syndrome observed in Foxp3-mutant scurfy mice and Foxp3-null mice results from a CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell deficiency and not from a cell-intrinsic defect of CD4+CD25- T cells. CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells rescue disease development and preferentially expand when transferred into neonatal Foxp3-deficient mice. Furthermore, ectopic expression of Foxp3 confers suppressor function on peripheral CD4+CD25- T cells. Thus, Foxp3 is a critical regulator of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell development and function.

Pubmed ID: 12612578


  • Fontenot JD
  • Gavin MA
  • Rudensky AY


Nature immunology

Publication Data

April 27, 2003

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Gene Targeting
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2