Xin Chen, Yingjie Nie, Haitao Xiao, Zhaoxiang Bian, Anthony J. Scarzello, Na-Young Song, Trivett L. Anna, De Yang & Joost J. Oppenheim
There is now compelling evidence that TNFR2 is constitutively expressed on CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) and TNF-TNFR2 interaction is critical for the activation, expansion and functional stability of Tregs. However, we showed that the expression of TNFR2 was also up-regulated on CD4+ Foxp3− effector T cells (Teffs) upon TCR stimulation. In order to define the role of TNFR2 in the pathogenic CD4 T cells, we compared the effect of transferred naïve CD4 cells from WT mice and TNFR2−/− mice into Rag 1−/− recipients. Transfer of TNFR2-deficient Teff cells failed to induce full-fledged colitis, unlike WT Teffs. This was due to defective proliferative expansion of TNFR2-deficient Teff cells in the lymphopenic mice, as well as their reduced capacity to express proinflammatory Th1 cytokine on a per cell basis. In vitro, the proliferative response of TNFR2 deficient naïve CD4 cells to anti-CD3 stimulation was markedly decreased as compared with that of WT naïve CD4 cells. The hypoproliferative response of TNFR2-deficient Teff cells to TCR stimulation was associated with an increased ratio of p100/p52, providing a mechanistic basis for our findings. Therefore, this study clearly indicates that TNFR2 is important for the proliferative expansion of pathogenic Teff cells.