Characterization of tumor-associated Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and de-novo induction by the tumor microenvironment
Regulatory T cells expressing the fork-head box transcription factor 3 (Foxp3) play a central role in the dominant control of immunological tolerance. Compelling evidence obtained from both animal and clinical studies have now linked the expansion and accumulation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells associated with tumor lesions to the failure of immune-mediated tumor rejection. However, further progress of the field is hampered by the gap of knowledge regarding their phenotypic, functional, and the developmental origins in which these tumor-associated Foxp3+ regulatory T cells are derived. Here, we have characterized the general properties of tumor-associated Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and addressed the issue of tumor microenvironment mediated de-novo induction by utilizing a well known murine tumor model MCA-205 in combination with our BAC Foxp3-GFP reporter mice and OT-II TCR transgenic mice on the RAG deficient background (RAG OT-II). De-novo induction defines a distinct mechanism of converting non-regulatory precursor cells to Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in the periphery as opposed to the expansion of pre-existing regulatory T cells formed naturally during thymic T cell development. This mechanism is of particularly importance to how tumors induce tumor-antigen-specific suppressor cells to subvert anti-tumor immune responses. Our study has found that tumor-associated Foxp3+ regulatory T cells are highly activated, undergo vigorous proliferation, are more potent by in-vitro suppression assays, and express higher levels of membrane-bound TGF-β1 than non-tumor regulatory T cells. With Foxp3-GFP reporter mice or RAG OT-II TCR transgenic mice, we show that tumor tissue can induce detectable de-novo generation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells of both polyclonal or antigen specific naïve T cells. This process was not only limited for subcutaneous tumors but for lung tumors as well. Furthermore, this process required the inducing antigen to be co-localized within the tumor tissue. Examination of tumor tissue revealed an abundance of myeloid CD11b+ antigen-presenting cells that were capable of inducing Foxp3+ regulatory T cells. Taken together, these findings elucidate the general attributes and origins of tumor-associated Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in the tumor microenvironment and in their role in the negative regulation of tumor immunity.
Duramad, Omar, "Characterization of tumor-associated Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and de-novo induction by the tumor microenvironment" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3287362.