Letter | Published:

Roquin represses autoimmunity by limiting inducible T-cell co-stimulator messenger RNA

Nature volume 450, pages 299303 (08 November 2007) | Download Citation

  • An Erratum to this article was published on 21 February 2008


Immune responses are normally targeted against microbial pathogens and not self-antigens by mechanisms that are only partly understood. Here we define a newly discovered pathway that prevents autoimmunity by limiting the levels on T lymphocytes of a co-stimulatory receptor, the inducible T-cell co-stimulator (ICOS). In sanroque mice homozygous for an M199R mutation in the ROQ domain of Roquin (also known as Rc3h1)1, increased Icos expression on T cells causes the accumulation of lymphocytes that is associated with a lupus-like autoimmune syndrome. Roquin normally limits Icos expression by promoting the degradation of Icos messenger RNA. A conserved segment in the unusually long ICOS 3′ untranslated mRNA is essential for regulation by Roquin. This segment comprises a 47-base-pair minimal region complementary to T-cell-expressed microRNAs including miR-101, the repressive activity of which is disrupted by base-pair inversions predicted to abrogate miR-101 binding. These findings illuminate a critical post-transcriptional pathway within T cells that regulates lymphocyte accumulation and autoimmunity, and highlights the therapeutic potential of partially antagonising the ICOS pathway.

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We thank R. Parker and J. Liu for the MS2–YFP–NLS plasmids; R. Kroczek and Millennium Pharmaceuticals for Icos-/- mice; Q.-J. Li, M. Davis and C.-Z. Chen for advice with the miRNA experiments; and the ACRF Biomolecular Resource Facility for real-time RT–PCR. This work was supported by the NHMRC, and by a Senior Viertel Medical Research Fellowship to C.G.V.

Author Contributions D.Y., C.C.G. and C.G.V. designed the study; D.Y., A.H.T. and X.H. performed experiments and analyzed the data; V.A., N.S., K.M.G. and D.G.S. helped with experiments; A.H., P.J.L. and K.P.L. provided expertise and advice; and D.Y., C.C.G. and C.G.V. wrote the manuscript.

Author information

Author notes

    • Christopher C. Goodnow
    •  & Carola G. Vinuesa

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Division of Immunology and Genetics, John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, 2601, Australia

    • Di Yu
    • , Xin Hu
    • , Vicki Athanasopoulos
    • , Nicholas Simpson
    • , Diego G. Silva
    • , Christopher C. Goodnow
    •  & Carola G. Vinuesa
  2. Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Immunology, Biomedical Sciences Institute, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore 138673, Singapore

    • Andy Hee-Meng Tan
    •  & Kong Peng Lam
  3. ARC Centre for the Molecular Genetics of Development, Australian National University, Canberra, 2601, Australia

    • Vicki Athanasopoulos
  4. Molecular Immunology, Robert Koch-Institute, 13353, Berlin, Germany

    • Andreas Hutloff
  5. Laboratory for Cancer Medicine, The University of Western Australia Centre for Medical Research, Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, 6000, Australia

    • Keith M. Giles
    •  & Peter J. Leedman
  6. School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia, Perth, 6000, Australia

    • Peter J. Leedman
  7. Australian Phenomics Facility, Canberra, 2601, Australia

    • Christopher C. Goodnow


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carola G. Vinuesa.

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