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Activation of human CD4+ cells with CD3 and CD46 induces a T-regulatory cell 1 phenotype


The immune system must distinguish not only between self and non-self, but also between innocuous and pathological foreign antigens to prevent unnecessary or self-destructive immune responses. Unresponsiveness to harmless antigens is established through central and peripheral processes1. Whereas clonal deletion and anergy are mechanisms of peripheral tolerance2,3, active suppression by T-regulatory 1 (Tr1) cells has emerged as an essential factor in the control of autoreactive cells4. Tr1 cells are CD4+ T lymphocytes that are defined by their production of interleukin 10 (IL-10)5 and suppression of T-helper cells6; however, the physiological conditions underlying Tr1 differentiation are unknown. Here we show that co-engagement of CD3 and the complement regulator CD46 in the presence of IL-2 induces a Tr1-specific cytokine phenotype in human CD4+ T cells. These CD3/CD46-stimulated IL-10-producing CD4+ cells proliferate strongly, suppress activation of bystander T cells and acquire a memory phenotype. Our findings identify an endogenous receptor-mediated event that drives Tr1 differentiation and suggest that the complement system has a previously unappreciated role in T-cell-mediated immunity and tolerance.

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We thank H. Molina, K. Liszewski, L. S. Wen and M. Denny for comments on the manuscript, and the immunology community at Washington University School of Medicine for discussions.

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Correspondence to John P. Atkinson.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Figure I: Cytokine profile of CD3/CD46 activated naïve CD4+T cells (PPT 178 kb)

Supplementary Figure II: IL-10 production induced by a natural ligand of CD46 (PPT 39 kb)

A model of CD46 activation of CD4+ T cells during antigen presentation (PPT 20 kb)

Figure Legends (DOC 19 kb)

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Further reading

Figure 1: CD3/CD46 stimulation induces IL-10 production in human peripheral blood CD4+ T lymphocytes.
Figure 2: Sorted CD3+CD4+CD45RA+CD45RO+ T cells respond to primary and secondary activation with IL-10 production.
Figure 3: Characteristics of CD3/CD46-activated, sorted CD3+CD4+CD45RA+CD45RO+ T cells.
Figure 4: Suppressive and proliferative properties of CD3/CD46-activated CD4+ T cells.


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