Promiscuous gene expression in thymic epithelial cells is regulated at multiple levels

Division of Developmental Immunology, German Cancer Research Center, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
Journal of Experimental Medicine (Impact Factor: 13.91). 08/2005; 202(1):33-45. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20050471
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The role of central tolerance induction has recently been revised after the discovery of promiscuous expression of tissue-restricted self-antigens in the thymus. The extent of tissue representation afforded by this mechanism and its cellular and molecular regulation are barely defined. Here we show that medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) are specialized to express a highly diverse set of genes representing essentially all tissues of the body. Most, but not all, of these genes are induced in functionally mature CD80(hi) mTECs. Although the autoimmune regulator (Aire) is responsible for inducing a large portion of this gene pool, numerous tissue-restricted genes are also up-regulated in mature mTECs in the absence of Aire. Promiscuously expressed genes tend to colocalize in clusters in the genome. Analysis of a particular gene locus revealed expression of clustered genes to be contiguous within such a cluster and to encompass both Aire-dependent and -independent genes. A role for epigenetic regulation is furthermore implied by the selective loss of imprinting of the insulin-like growth factor 2 gene in mTECs. Our data document a remarkable cellular and molecular specialization of the thymic stroma in order to mimic the transcriptome of multiple peripheral tissues and, thus, maximize the scope of central self-tolerance.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Self-peptide MHCII ligands are critical for selection of CD4+ T cells in the thymus, and maintenance in the periphery. To date, no investigation as to the exact thymic and peripheral expression of a naturally occurring positive selecting self-peptide MHCII (self-pMHCII) complex has taken place. We have generated a sensitive T cell hybridoma to functionally detect the endogenous presentation of a confirmed positive selecting self-pMHCII complex for a CD4+ transgenic T cell. Using this tool to survey and quantify the expression selecting of self-pMHCII, we have shown unequivocal proof that a known CD4+ selecting ligand can be presented on both positive and negative selecting thymic APCs. We also show that peripheral presentation of this same selecting ligand is affected by the activation state of the APCs. Furthermore, discrepancies between the gene expression and self-pMHCII complex presentation of this bona fide selecting ligand suggest that functional detection self-ligand complexes will be required to establish a complete view of the naturally presented endogenous self-pMHC landscape.
    Molecular Immunology 10/2014; 63(2). DOI:10.1016/j.molimm.2014.09.016 · 3.00 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Promiscuous expression of a plethora of tissue-restricted Ags (TRAs) by medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) plays an essential role in T cell tolerance. Although the cellular mechanisms by which promiscuous gene expression (pGE) imposes T cell tolerance have been well characterized, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) is to date the only validated molecule known to regulate pGE. AIRE is part of higher-order multiprotein complexes, which promote transcription, elongation, and splicing of a wide range of target genes. How AIRE and its partners mediate these various effects at the molecular level is still largely unclear. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen, we searched for novel AIRE-interacting proteins and identified the homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2) as a novel partner. HIPK2 partially colocalized with AIRE in nuclear bodies upon cotransfection and in human mTECs in situ. Moreover, HIPK2 phosphorylated AIRE in vitro and suppressed the coactivator activity of AIRE in a kinase-dependent manner. To evaluate the role of Hipk2 in modulating the function of AIRE in vivo, we compared whole-genome gene signatures of purified mTEC subsets from TEC-specific Hipk2 knockout mice with control mice and identified a small set of differentially expressed genes. Unexpectedly, most differentially expressed genes were confined to the CD80(lo) mTEC subset and preferentially included AIRE-independent TRAs. Thus, although it modulates gene expression in mTECs and in addition affects the size of the medullary compartment, TEC-specific HIPK2 deletion only mildly affects AIRE-directed pGE in vivo. Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Lymphatic endothelial cells are most often thought of as structural cells that form the lymphatic vasculature, which transports fluid out of peripheral tissues and transports antigens and antigen presenting cells to lymph nodes. Recently, it has been shown that lymphatic endothelial cells also dynamically respond to and influence the immune response in several ways. Here, we describe how lymphatic endothelial cells induce peripheral T-cell tolerance and how this relates to tolerance induced by other types of antigen presenting cells. Furthermore, the ability of lymphatic endothelial cells to alter immune responses under steady-state or inflammatory conditions is explored, and the therapeutic potential of bypassing lymphatic endothelial cell-induced tolerance to enhance cancer immunotherapy is discussed.

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 22, 2014