Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Id1 expression promotes T regulatory cell differentiation by facilitating TCR costimulation.

PMID 24920844


T regulatory (Treg) cells play crucial roles in the regulation of cellular immunity. The development of Treg cells depends on signals from TCRs and IL-2Rs and is influenced by a variety of transcription factors. The basic helix-loop-helix proteins are known to influence TCR signaling thresholds. Whether this property impacts Treg differentiation is not understood. In this study, we interrogated the role of basic helix-loop-helix proteins in the production of Treg cells using the CD4 promoter-driven Id1 transgene. We found that Treg cells continued to accumulate as Id1 transgenic mice aged, resulting in a significant increase in Treg cell counts in the thymus as well as in the periphery compared with wild-type controls. Data from mixed bone marrow assays suggest that Id1 acts intrinsically on developing Treg cells. We made a connection between Id1 expression and CD28 costimulatory signaling because Id1 transgene expression facilitated the formation of Treg precursors in CD28(-/-) mice and the in vitro differentiation of Treg cells on thymic dendritic cells despite the blockade of costimulation by anti-CD80/CD86. Id1 expression also allowed in vitro Treg differentiation without anti-CD28 costimulation, which was at least in part due to enhanced production of IL-2. Notably, with full strength of costimulatory signals, however, Id1 expression caused modest but significant suppression of Treg induction. Finally, we demonstrate that Id1 transgenic mice were less susceptible to the induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, thus illustrating the impact of Id1-mediated augmentation of Treg cell levels on cellular immunity.