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.
Follicular regulatory T (Tfr) cells differentiate from conventional regulatory T (Treg) cells and suppress excessive germinal center (GC) responses by acting on both GC B cells and T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. Here, we examined the impact of mTOR, a serine/threonine protein kinase that senses and integrates diverse environmental cues, on the differentiation and functional competency of Tfr cells in response to protein immunization or viral infection. By genetically deleting Rptor or Rictor, essential components for mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), respectively, we found that mTORC1 but not mTORC2 is essential for Tfr differentiation. Mechanistically, mTORC1-mediated phosphorylation of the transcription factor STAT3 induced the expression of the transcription factor TCF-1 by promoting STAT3 binding to the Tcf7 5'-regulatory region. Subsequently, TCF-1 bound to the Bcl6 promoter to induce Bcl6 expression, which launched the Tfr cell differentiation program. Thus, mTORC1 initiates Tfr cell differentiation by activating the TCF-1-Bcl-6 axis during immunization or infection.
The differentiation of naive CD8 T cells into effector cytotoxic T lymphocytes upon antigen stimulation is necessary for successful antiviral, and antitumor immune responses. Here, using a mouse model, we describe a dual role for the let-7 microRNAs in the regulation of CD8 T cell responses, where maintenance of the naive phenotype in CD8 T cells requires high levels of let-7 expression, while generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes depends upon T cell receptor-mediated let-7 downregulation. Decrease of let-7 expression in activated T cells enhances clonal expansion and the acquisition of effector function through derepression of the let-7 targets, including Myc and Eomesodermin. Ultimately, we have identified a novel let-7-mediated mechanism, which acts as a molecular brake controlling the magnitude of CD8 T cell responses.