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Immunology

Insufficient interleukin-12 signalling favours differentiation of human CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells into GATA-3(+) and GATA-3(+) T-bet(+) subsets in humanized mice.


PMID 24766459

Abstract

Differentiation of CD4(+) T cells into type 1 or type 2 subsets is mediated by the expression of the opposing lineage defining transcription factors T-bet and GATA-3. However, the existence of GATA-3(+) T-bet(+) CD4(+) T cells in mice suggests functional plasticity of these subsets. Little is known about type 1 and type 2 plasticity of human T-cell subsets in vivo. Here, we show that in the xenogeneic environment of humanized mice, which lacks a functional immune-regulatory network, human CD4(+) and, notably, CD8(+) T cells preferentially differentiate into interleukin (IL)-4(+) GATA-3(+) and IL-4(+) interferon-γ(+) GATA-3(+) T-bet(+) subsets. Treatment with recombinant human IL-12 or expansion of IL-12-producing human dendritic cells in vivo reverted this phenotype and led to the down-regulation of GATA-3 expression. These changes also correlated with improved antiviral immune responses in humanized mice. In conclusion, our study shows the capacity of human CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells for stable co-expression of GATA-3 and T-bet in humanized mice and reveals a critical role for IL-12 in regulating this phenotype.