ABSTRACT: Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are characterized by a high expression of IL-2 receptor α chain (CD25) and of forkhead box P3 (FOXP3), the latter being essential for their development and function. Another major player in the regulatory function is the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated molecule-4 (CTLA-4) that inhibits cytotoxic responses. However, the regulation of CTLA-4 expression remains less well explored. We therefore studied the microRNA signature of circulating CD4(+) Tregs isolated from adult healthy donors and identified a signature composed of 15 differentially expressed microRNAs. Among those, miR-24, miR-145, and miR-210 were down-regulated in Tregs compared with controls and were found to have potential target sites in the 3'-UTR of FOXP3 and CTLA-4; miR-24 and miR-210 negatively regulated FOXP3 expression by directly binding to their two target sites in its 3'-UTR. On the other hand, miR-95, which is highly expressed in adult peripheral blood Tregs, positively regulated FOXP3 expression via an indirect mechanism yet to be identified. Finally, we showed that miR-145 negatively regulated CTLA-4 expression in human CD4(+) adult peripheral blood Tregs by binding to its target site in CTLA-4 transcript 3'-UTR. To our knowledge, this is the first identification of a human adult peripheral blood CD4(+) Treg microRNA signature. Moreover, unveiling one mechanism regulating CTLA-4 expression is novel and may lead to a better understanding of the regulation of this crucial gene.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2012; 287(13):9910-22. · 4.77 Impact Factor