PLoS One 2009 Aug 11;4(8):e6580. Epub 2009 Aug 11.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Signaling through the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) is important for the homeostasis of naïve and memory CD4(+) T cells. The significance of TCR signaling in regulatory T (Treg) cells has not been systematically addressed. Using an Ox40-cre allele that is prominently expressed in Treg cells, and a conditional null allele of the gene encoding p56(Lck), we have examined the importance of TCR signaling in Treg cells. Inactivation of p56(Lck) resulted in abnormal Treg homeostasis characterized by impaired turnover, preferential redistribution to the lymph nodes, loss of suppressive function, and striking changes in gene expression. Abnormal Treg cell homeostasis and function did not reflect the involvement of p56(Lck) in CD4 function because these effects were not observed when CD4 expression was inactivated by Ox40-cre.The results make clear multiple aspects of Treg cell homeostasis and phenotype that are dependent on a sustained capacity to signal through the TCR.