FcR{gamma} Presence in TCR Complex of Double-Negative T Cells Is Critical for Their Regulatory Function

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The Journal of Immunology





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TCRalphabeta+CD4-CD8- double-negative (DN) T regulatory (Treg) cells have recently been shown to suppress Ag-specific immune responses mediated by CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in humans and mice. Our previous study using cDNA microarray analysis of global gene expression showed that FcRgamma was the most highly overexpressed gene in functional DN Treg cell clones compared with nonfunctional mutant clones. In this study, we demonstrate that FcRgamma-deficient DN T cells display markedly reduced suppressive activity in vitro. In addition, unlike FcRgamma-sufficient DN T cells, FcRgamma-deficient DN T cells were unable to prolong donor-specific allograft survival when adoptively transferred to recipient mice. Protein analyses indicate that in addition to FcRgamma, DN Treg cell clones also express higher levels of TCRbeta, while mutant clones expressed higher levels of Zap70 and Lck. Within DN Treg cells, we found that FcRgamma associates with the TCR complex and that both FcRgamma and Syk are phosphorylated in response to TCR cross-linking. Inhibition of Syk signaling and FcRgamma expression were both found to reduce the suppressive function of DN Treg cells in vitro. These results indicate that FcRgamma deficiency significantly impairs the ability of DN Treg cells to down-regulate allogeneic immune responses both in vitro and in vivo, and that FcRgamma plays a role in mediating TCR signaling in DN Treg cells.