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Keywords:

  • Th1/Th2 cells;
  • costimulation;
  • GATA-3

Summary

Naive CD4+ T-cell differentiation to T helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 cells is dependent on T-bet and GATA-3 factors, respectively. T-bet and GATA-3, indeed, through chromatin remodelling allow transcriptional activation of Ifnγ and Th2 cytokine (Il4, Il5, Il13) genes, respectively. We investigated the effects of the negative costimulatory receptor cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) on GATA-3 and T-bet mRNA expression and Th cell differentiation in mouse naive CD4+ T cells. Our results show that CTLA-4 inhibits GATA-3 mRNA expression and Th2 cell differentiation. At variance, CTLA-4 does not affect T-bet mRNA expression and Th1 cell differentiation. GATA-3 mRNA expression is inhibited when CD4+ cells are stimulated under both neutral (i.e. absence of cytokines) and Th2-polarizing (i.e. presence of interleukin (IL)-4) conditions, the effect being larger under the latter condition. Hence CTLA-4 might affect the IL-4/signal transducer and activator of transcription-6 (STAT6) pathway leading to GATA-3 mRNA up-regulation. We found, indeed, that CTLA-4 engagement inhibits STAT6 activation leaving unaffected the STAT6 protein level. Moreover, CTLA-4 engagement drastically inhibits IL-4Rα mRNA and protein up-regulation under Th2-polarizing conditions. Thus, CTLA-4 exerts a tight control on Th2 cell differentiation by negatively regulating both the CD3/CD28 and the IL-4/STAT6 pathways.