Restimulation-induced cell death (RICD) is an apoptotic program that regulates effector T cell expansion, triggered by repeated stimulation through the T cell receptor (TCR) in the presence of interleukin-2 (IL-2). Although CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) consume IL-2 and experience frequent TCR stimulation, they are highly resistant to RICD. Resistance in Tregs is dependent on the forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) transcription factor, although the mechanism remains unclear. T cells from patients with X-linked lymphoproliferative disease (XLP-1), that lack the adaptor molecule SLAM-associated protein (SAP), are also resistant to RICD. Here we demonstrate that normal Tregs express very low levels of SAP compared to conventional T cells. FOXP3 reduces SAP expression by directly binding to and repressing the SH2D1A (SAP) promoter. Indeed, ectopic SAP expression restores RICD sensitivity in human FOXP3+ Tregs. Our findings illuminate the mechanism behind FOXP3-mediated RICD resistance in Tregs, providing new insight into their long-term persistence.
- Regulatory T cells
- Restimulation-induced cell death