Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that display features of adaptive immunity during viral infection. Biallelic mutations in IRF8 have been reported to cause familial NK cell deficiency and susceptibility to severe viral infection in humans; however, the precise role of this transcription factor in regulating NK cell function remains unknown. Here, we show that cell-intrinsic IRF8 was required for NK-cell-mediated protection against mouse cytomegalovirus infection. During viral exposure, NK cells upregulated IRF8 through interleukin-12 (IL-12) signaling and the transcription factor STAT4, which promoted epigenetic remodeling of the Irf8 locus. Moreover, IRF8 facilitated the proliferative burst of virus-specific NK cells by promoting expression of cell-cycle genes and directly controlling Zbtb32, a master regulator of virus-driven NK cell proliferation. These findings identify the function and cell-type-specific regulation of IRF8 in NK-cell-mediated antiviral immunity and provide a mechanistic understanding of viral susceptibility in patients with IRF8 mutations.
Natural killer (NK) cells are present in large populations at the maternal-fetal interface during early pregnancy. However, the role of NK cells in fetal growth is unclear. Here, we have identified a CD49a+Eomes+ subset of NK cells that secreted growth-promoting factors (GPFs), including pleiotrophin and osteoglycin, in both humans and mice. The crosstalk between HLA-G and ILT2 served as a stimulus for GPF-secreting function of this NK cell subset. Decreases in this GPF-secreting NK cell subset impaired fetal development, resulting in fetal growth restriction. The transcription factor Nfil3, but not T-bet, affected the function and the number of this decidual NK cell subset. Adoptive transfer of induced CD49a+Eomes+ NK cells reversed impaired fetal growth and rebuilt an appropriate local microenvironment. These findings reveal properties of NK cells in promoting fetal growth. In addition, this research proposes approaches for therapeutic administration of NK cells in order to reverse restricted nourishments within the uterine microenvironment during early pregnancy.
How tissue-resident macrophages (TRM) impact adaptive immune responses remains poorly understood. We report novel mechanisms by which TRMs regulate T cell activities at tissue sites. These mechanisms are mediated by the complement receptor of immunoglobulin family (CRIg). Using animal models for autoimmune type 1 diabetes (T1D), we found that CRIg+ TRMs formed a protective barrier surrounding pancreatic islets. Genetic ablation of CRIg exacerbated islet inflammation and local T cell activation. CRIg exhibited a dual function of attenuating early T cell activation and promoting the differentiation of Foxp3+ regulatory (Treg) cells. More importantly, CRIg stabilized the expression of Foxp3 in Treg cells, by enhancing their responsiveness to interleukin-2. The expression of CRIg in TRMs was postnatally regulated by gut microbial signals and metabolites. Thus, environmental cues instruct TRMs to express CRIg, which functions as an immune checkpoint molecule to regulate adaptive immunity and promote immune tolerance.