The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific facilities. Pre-prints by Institute authors can be viewed on the Institute's bioRxiv channel. We believe that free and open access to the outputs of publicly‐funded research offers significant social and economic benefits, as well as aiding the development of new research. We are working to provide Open Access to as many publications as possible and these can be identified below by the padlock icon. Where this hasn't been possible, subscriptions may be required to view the full text.
Inborn errors of immunity are a heterogenous group of monogenic immunological disorders caused by mutations in genes with critical roles in the development, maintenance or function of the immune system. The genetic basis is frequently a mutation in a gene with restricted expression and/or function in immune cells, leading to an immune disorder. Several classes of inborn errors of immunity, however, result from mutation in genes that are ubiquitously expressed. Despite the genes participating in cellular processes conserved between cell types, immune cells are disproportionally affected, leading to inborn errors of immunity. Mutations in DNA replication, DNA repair or DNA damage response factors can result in monogenic human disease, some of which are classified as inborn error of immunity. Genetic defects in the DNA repair machinery are a well-known cause of TBNK severe combined immunodeficiency. An emerging class of inborn errors of immunity is those caused by mutations in DNA replication factors. Considerable heterogeneity exists within the DNA replication-associated inborn errors of immunity, with diverse immunological defects and clinical manifestations observed. These differences are suggestive for differential sensitivity of certain leukocyte subsets to deficiencies in specific DNA replication factors. Here, we provide an overview of DNA replication-associated inborn errors of immunity and discuss the emerging mechanistic insights that can explain the observed immunological heterogeneity.
The ZFP36 family of RNA-binding proteins acts post-transcriptionally to repress translation and promote RNA decay. Studies of genes and pathways regulated by the ZFP36 family in CD4 T cells have focussed largely on cytokines, but their impact on metabolic reprogramming and differentiation is unclear. Using CD4 T cells lacking Zfp36 and Zfp36l1, we combined the quantification of mRNA transcription, stability, abundance and translation with crosslinking immunoprecipitation and metabolic profiling to determine how they regulate T cell metabolism and differentiation. Our results suggest that ZFP36 and ZFP36L1 act directly to limit the expression of genes driving anabolic processes by two distinct routes: by targeting transcription factors and by targeting transcripts encoding rate-limiting enzymes. These enzymes span numerous metabolic pathways including glycolysis, one-carbon metabolism and glutaminolysis. Direct binding and repression of transcripts encoding glutamine transporter SLC38A2 correlated with increased cellular glutamine content in ZFP36/ZFP36L1-deficient T cells. Increased conversion of glutamine to α-ketoglutarate in these cells was consistent with direct binding of ZFP36/ZFP36L1 to Gls (encoding glutaminase) and Glud1 (encoding glutamate dehydrogenase). We propose that ZFP36 and ZFP36L1 as well as glutamine and α-ketoglutarate are limiting factors for the acquisition of the cytotoxic CD4 T cell fate. Our data implicate ZFP36 and ZFP36L1 in limiting glutamine anaplerosis and differentiation of activated CD4 T cells, likely mediated by direct binding to transcripts of critical genes that drive these processes.
Recent advances in flow cytometry have allowed high-dimensional characterization of biological phenomena, enabling breakthroughs in a multitude of fields. Despite the appreciation of the unique properties of antigens and fluorophores in high-parameter panel design, staining conditions are often standardized for short surface stains, regardless of antibody affinity or antigen accessibility. Here, we demonstrate how increasing antibody incubation times can lead to substantial improvements in sensitivity, maintaining specificity, and reducing background, while also significantly reducing the costs of high-parameter cytometry panels. Furthermore, overnight staining reduces the influence of interexperimental variability, assisting accurate pooling over experiments over extended time courses. We provide guidance on how to optimize staining conditions for diverse antigens, including how different fixation strategies can affect epitope accessibility. Overnight staining can thus substantially improve the resolution, repeatability, and cost-effectiveness of high-parameter cytometry. © 2022 The Authors. Current Protocols published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
Influenza infection imparts an age-related increase in mortality and morbidity. The most effective countermeasure is vaccination; however, vaccines offer modest protection in older adults. To investigate how aging impacts the memory B cell response, we track hemagglutinin-specific B cells by indexed flow sorting and single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) in 20 healthy adults that were administered the trivalent influenza vaccine. We demonstrate age-related skewing in the memory B cell compartment 6 weeks after vaccination, with younger adults developing hemagglutinin-specific memory B cells with an FcRL5 "atypical" phenotype, showing evidence of somatic hypermutation and positive selection, which happened to a lesser extent in older persons. We use publicly available scRNA-seq from paired human lymph node and blood samples to corroborate that FcRL5 atypical memory B cells can derive from germinal center (GC) precursors. Together, this study shows that the aged human GC reaction and memory B cell response following vaccination is defective.
Alterations in cellular metabolism underpin macrophage activation, yet little is known regarding how key immunological molecules regulate metabolic programs in macrophages. Here we uncover a function for the antigen presenting molecule CD1d in the control of lipid metabolism. We show that CD1d-deficient macrophages exhibit a metabolic reprogramming, with a downregulation of lipid metabolic pathways and an increase in exogenous lipid import. This metabolic rewiring primes macrophages for enhanced responses to innate signals, as CD1d-KO cells show higher signalling and cytokine secretion upon Toll-like receptor stimulation. Mechanistically, CD1d modulates lipid import by controlling the internalization of the lipid transporter CD36, while blocking lipid uptake through CD36 restores metabolic and immune responses in macrophages. Thus, our data reveal CD1d as a key regulator of an inflammatory-metabolic circuit in macrophages, independent of its function in the control of T cell responses.
P-Rex1 and P-Rex2 are guanine-nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) that activate Rac small GTPases in response to the stimulation of G protein-coupled receptors and phosphoinositide 3-kinase. P-Rex Rac-GEFs regulate the morphology, adhesion and migration of various cell types, as well as reactive oxygen species production and cell cycle progression. P-Rex Rac-GEFs also have pathogenic roles in the initiation, progression or metastasis of several types of cancer. With one exception, all P-Rex functions are known or assumed to be mediated through their catalytic Rac-GEF activity. Thus, inhibitors of P-Rex Rac-GEF activity would be valuable research tools. We have generated a panel of small-molecule P-Rex inhibitors that target the interface between the catalytic DH domain of P-Rex Rac-GEFs and Rac. Our best-characterized compound, P-Rex inhibitor 1 (PREX-in1), blocks the Rac-GEF activity of full-length P-Rex1 and P-Rex2, and of their isolated catalytic domains, at low-micromolar concentration, without affecting the activities of several other Rho-GEFs. PREX-in1 blocks the P-Rex1 dependent spreading of PDGF-stimulated endothelial cells and the production of reactive oxygen species in fMLP-stimulated mouse neutrophils. Structure-function analysis revealed critical structural elements of PREX-in1, allowing us to develop derivatives with increased efficacy, the best with an IC of 2 µM. In summary, we have developed PREX-in1 and derivative small-molecule compounds that will be useful laboratory research tools for the study of P-Rex function. These compounds may also be a good starting point for the future development of more sophisticated drug-like inhibitors aimed at targeting P-Rex Rac-GEFs in cancer.
Genome sequencing has revealed over 300 million genetic variations in human populations. Over 90% of variants are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the remainder include short deletions or insertions, and small numbers of structural variants. Hundreds of thousands of these variants have been associated with specific phenotypic traits and diseases through genome wide association studies which link significant differences in variant frequencies with specific phenotypes among large groups of individuals. Only 5% of disease-associated SNPs are located in gene coding sequences, with the potential to disrupt gene expression or alter of the function of encoded proteins. The remaining 95% of disease-associated SNPs are located in non-coding DNA sequences which make up 98% of the genome. The role of non-coding, disease-associated SNPs, many of which are located at considerable distances from any gene, was at first a mystery until the discovery that gene promoters regularly interact with distal regulatory elements to control gene expression. Disease-associated SNPs are enriched at the millions of gene regulatory elements that are dispersed throughout the non-coding sequences of the genome, suggesting they function as gene regulation variants. Assigning specific regulatory elements to the genes they control is not straightforward since they can be millions of base pairs apart. In this review we describe how understanding 3D genome organization can identify specific interactions between gene promoters and distal regulatory elements and how 3D genomics can link disease-associated SNPs to their target genes. Understanding which gene or genes contribute to a specific disease is the first step in designing rational therapeutic interventions.
No abstract available
Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic process through which genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin specific manner resulting in mono-allelic or strongly biased expression of one allele. For some genes, imprinted expression may be tissue-specific and reliant on CTCF-influenced enhancer-promoter interactions. The imprinting cluster is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders and comprises canonical imprinted genes, which are conserved between mouse and human, as well as brain-specific imprinted genes in mouse. The latter consist of , and , which have a maternal allelic expression bias of ∼75% in brain. Findings of such allelic expression biases on the tissue level raise the question of how they are reflected in individual cells and whether there is variability and mosaicism in allelic expression between individual cells of the tissue. Here we show that and are not imprinted in hippocampus-derived neural stem cells (neurospheres), while retains its strong bias of paternal allele expression. Upon analysis of single neural stem cells and differentiated neurons, we find not uniform, but variable states of allelic expression, especially for and . These ranged from mono-allelic paternal to equal bi-allelic to mono-allelic maternal, including biased bi-allelic transcriptional states. Even expression deviated from its expected paternal allele bias in a small number of cells. Although the cell populations consisted of a mosaic of cells with different allelic expression states, as a whole they reflected bulk tissue data. Furthermore, in an attempt to identify potential brain-specific regulatory elements across the locus, we demonstrate tissue-specific and general silencer activities, which might contribute to the regulation of its imprinted expression bias.
Calcium signaling is essential for lymphocyte activation, with genetic disruptions of store-operated calcium (Ca) entry resulting in severe immunodeficiency. The inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IPR), a homo- or heterotetramer of the IPR1-3 isoforms, amplifies lymphocyte signaling by releasing Ca from endoplasmic reticulum stores following antigen stimulation. Although knockout of all IPR isoforms in mice causes immunodeficiency, the seeming redundancy of the isoforms is thought to explain the absence of variants in human immunodeficiency. In this study, we identified compound heterozygous variants of ITPR3 (a gene encoding IPR subtype 3) in two unrelated Caucasian patients presenting with immunodeficiency. To determine whether ITPR3 variants act in a nonredundant manner and disrupt human immune responses, we characterized the Ca signaling capacity, the lymphocyte response, and the clinical phenotype of these patients. We observed disrupted Ca signaling in patient-derived fibroblasts and immune cells, with abnormal proliferation and activation responses following T-cell receptor stimulation. Reconstitution of IPR3 in IPR knockout cell lines led to the identification of variants as functional hypomorphs that showed reduced ability to discriminate between homeostatic and induced states, validating a genotype-phenotype link. These results demonstrate a functional link between defective endoplasmic reticulum Ca channels and immunodeficiency and identify IPRs as diagnostic targets for patients with specific inborn errors of immunity. These results also extend the known cause of Ca-associated immunodeficiency from store-operated entry to impaired Ca mobilization from the endoplasmic reticulum, revealing a broad sensitivity of lymphocytes to genetic defects in Ca signaling.
Robust analysis of DNA sequencing data needs to include a set of quality control steps to ensure that technical bias is kept to a minimum. A metric easily obtained is the frequency of each of the nucleobases for each position across all sequencing reads. Here, we explore the differences in nucleobase compositions of various library types produced by standard experimental methodologies. Methods: We obtained the compositions of nearly 3000 publicly available datasets and subjected them to Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP) dimensionality reduction for a two-dimensional representation of their composition characteristics. Results: We find that most library types result in a specific composition profile. We use this to give an estimate of how strongly the composition of a test library resembles the profiles of previously published libraries, and how likely the test sample is to be of a particular type. We introduce Librarian, a user-friendly web application and command line tool which enables checking base compositions of test libraries against known library types. Conclusions: Library preparation methods strongly influence the per position nucleobase content. By comparing test libraries to a database of previously published library types we can make predictions regarding the library preparation method. Librarian is a user-friendly tool to access this information for quality assurance purposes as discrepancies can flag potential irregularities very early on.
In type 1 diabetes, dysfunctional glucose regulation occurs due to the death of insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreatic islets. Initiation of this process is caused by the inheritance of an adaptive immune system that is predisposed to responding to beta-cell antigens, most notably to insulin itself, coupled with unknown environmental insults priming the autoimmune reaction. While autoimmunity is a primary driver in beta-cell death, there is growing evidence that cellular stress participates in the loss of beta-cells. In the beta-cell fragility model, partial loss of islet mass requires compensatory upregulation of insulin production in the remaining islets, driving a cellular stress capable of triggering apoptosis in the remaining cells. The Glis3-Manf axis has been identified as being pivotal to the relative fragility or robustness of stressed islets, potentially operating in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Here, we have used an AAV-based gene delivery system to enhance the expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Manf in the beta-cells of NOD mice. Gene delivery substantially lowered the rate of diabetes development in treated mice. Manf-treated mice demonstrated minimal insulitis and superior preservation of insulin production. Our results demonstrating the therapeutic potential of Manf delivery to enhance beta-cell robustness and avert clinical diabetes.
Peroxisome biogenesis disorders (due to gene mutations) are associated with symptoms that range in severity and can lead to early childhood death, but a common feature is hearing impairment. In this study, mice carrying mutations were found to show normal auditory development followed by an early-onset progressive increase in auditory response thresholds. The only structural defect detected in the cochlea at four weeks old was the disruption of synapses below inner hair cells. A conditional approach was used to establish that expression is required locally within the cochlea for normal hearing, rather than hearing loss being due to systemic effects. A lipidomics analysis of the inner ear revealed a local reduction in plasmalogens in the mouse mutants, comparable to the systemic plasmalogen reduction reported in human peroxisome biogenesis disorders. Thus, mice with mutations may be a useful tool to understand the physiological basis of peroxisome biogenesis disorders.
Autophagy is a fundamental catabolic process coordinated by a network of autophagy-related (ATG) proteins. These ATG proteins also perform an important parallel role in "noncanonical" autophagy, a lysosome-associated signaling pathway with key functions in immunity, inflammation, cancer, and neurodegeneration. While the noncanonical autophagy pathway shares the common ATG machinery, it bears key mechanistic and functional distinctions, and is characterized by conjugation of ATG8 to single membranes (CASM). Here, we review the diverse, and still expanding, collection of stimuli and processes now known to harness the noncanonical autophagy pathway, including engulfment processes, drug treatments, TRPML1 and STING signaling, viral infection, and other pathogenic factors. We discuss the multiple associated routes to CASM and assess their shared and distinctive molecular features. By integrating these findings, we propose an updated and unifying mechanism for noncanonical autophagy, centered on ATG16L1 and V-ATPase.
Loss of innervation is a key driver of age associated muscle atrophy and weakness (sarcopenia). Our laboratory has previously shown that denervation induced atrophy is associated with the generation of mitochondrial hydroperoxides and lipid mediators produced downstream of cPLA and 12/15 lipoxygenase (12/15-LOX). To define the pathological impact of lipid hydroperoxides generated in denervation-induced atrophy in vivo, we treated mice with liproxstatin-1, a lipid hydroperoxide scavenger. We treated adult male mice with 5 mg/kg liproxstain-1 or vehicle one day prior to sciatic nerve transection and daily for 7 days post-denervation before tissue analysis. Liproxstatin-1 treatment protected gastrocnemius mass and fiber cross sectional area (∼40% less atrophy post-denervation in treated versus untreated mice). Mitochondrial hydroperoxide generation was reduced 80% in vitro and by over 65% in vivo by liproxstatin-1 treatment in denervated permeabilized muscle fibers and decreased the content of 4-HNE by ∼25% post-denervation. Lipidomic analysis revealed detectable levels of 25 oxylipins in denervated gastrocnemius muscle and significantly increased levels for eight oxylipins that are generated by metabolism of fatty acids through 12/15-LOX. Liproxstatin-1 treatment reduced the level of three of the eight denervation-induced oxylipins, specifically 15-HEPE, 13-HOTrE and 17-HDOHE. Denervation elevated protein degradation rates in muscle and treatment with liproxstatin-1 reduced rates of protein breakdown in denervated muscle. In contrast, protein synthesis rates were unchanged by denervation. Targeted proteomics revealed a number of proteins with altered expression after denervation but no effect of liproxstain-1. Transcriptomic analysis revealed 203 differentially expressed genes in denervated muscle from vehicle or liproxstatin-1 treated mice, including ER stress, nitric oxide signaling, Gαi signaling, glucocorticoid receptor signaling, and other pathways. Overall, these data suggest lipid hydroperoxides and oxylipins are key drivers of increased protein breakdown and muscle loss associated with denervation induced atrophy and a potential target for sarcopenia intervention.
Mutations and gene amplifications that confer drug resistance emerge frequently during chemotherapy, but their mechanism and timing are poorly understood. Here, we investigate amplification events that underlie resistance to the MEK inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244/ARRY-142886) in COLO205 cells, a well-characterized model for reproducible emergence of drug resistance, and show that amplifications acquired are the primary cause of resistance. Selumetinib causes long-term G1 arrest accompanied by reduced expression of DNA replication and repair genes, but cells stochastically re-enter the cell cycle during treatment despite continued repression of pERK1/2. Most DNA replication and repair genes are re-expressed as cells enter S and G2; however, mRNAs encoding a subset of factors important for error-free replication and chromosome segregation, including TIPIN, PLK2 and PLK3, remain at low abundance. This suggests that DNA replication following escape from G1 arrest in drug is more error prone and provides a potential explanation for the DNA damage observed under long-term RAF-MEK-ERK1/2 pathway inhibition. To test the hypothesis that escape from G1 arrest in drug promotes amplification, we exploited the combination of palbociclib and selumetinib. Combined treatment with selumetinib and a dose of palbociclib sufficient to reinforce G1 arrest in selumetinib-sensitive cells, but not to impair proliferation of resistant cells, delays the emergence of resistant colonies, meaning that escape from G1 arrest is critical in the formation of resistant clones. Our findings demonstrate that acquisition of MEK inhibitor resistance often occurs through gene amplification and can be suppressed by impeding cell cycle entry in drug.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor-type kappa (PTPRK) is a transmembrane receptor that links extracellular homophilic interactions to intracellular catalytic activity. Previously we showed that PTPRK promotes cell-cell adhesion by selectively dephosphorylating several cell junction regulators including the protein Afadin (Fearnley et al., 2019). Here we demonstrate that Afadin is recruited for dephosphorylation by directly binding to the PTPRK D2 pseudophosphatase domain. We mapped this interaction to a putative coiled coil (CC) domain in Afadin that is separated by more than 100 amino acids from the substrate pTyr residue. We identify the residues that define PTP specificity, explaining how Afadin is selectively dephosphorylated by PTPRK yet not by the closely related receptor tyrosine phosphatase PTPRM. Our work demonstrates that PTP substrate specificity can be determined by protein-protein interactions distal to the active site. This explains how PTPRK and other PTPs achieve substrate specificity despite a lack of specific sequence context at the substrate pTyr. Furthermore, by demonstrating that these interactions are phosphorylation-independent and mediated via binding to a non-catalytic domain, we highlight how receptor PTPs could function as intracellular scaffolds in addition to catalyzing protein dephosphorylation.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor-type kappa (PTPRK) is a transmembrane receptor that links extracellular homophilic interactions to intracellular catalytic activity. Previously we showed that PTPRK promotes cell-cell adhesion by selectively dephosphorylating several cell junction regulators including the protein Afadin (Fearnley et al, 2019). Here, we demonstrate that Afadin is recruited for dephosphorylation by directly binding to the PTPRK D2 pseudophosphatase domain. We mapped this interaction to a putative coiled coil (CC) domain in Afadin that is separated by more than 100 amino acids from the substrate pTyr residue. We identify the residues that define PTP specificity, explaining how Afadin is selectively dephosphorylated by PTPRK yet not by the closely related receptor tyrosine phosphatase PTPRM. Our work demonstrates that PTP substrate specificity can be determined by protein-protein interactions distal to the active site. This explains how PTPRK and other PTPs achieve substrate specificity despite a lack of specific sequence context at the substrate pTyr. Furthermore, by demonstrating that these interactions are phosphorylation-independent and mediated via binding to a non-catalytic domain, we highlight how receptor PTPs could function as intracellular scaffolds in addition to catalyzing protein dephosphorylation.
Autophagosome biogenesis occurs in the transient subdomains of the endoplasmic reticulum that are called omegasomes, which, in fluorescence microscopy, appear as small puncta, which then grow in diameter and finally shrink and disappear once the autophagosome is complete. Autophagosomes are formed by phagophores, which are membrane cisterns that elongate and close to form the double membrane that limits autophagosomes. Earlier electron-microscopy studies showed that, during elongation, phagophores are lined by the endoplasmic reticulum on both sides. However, the morphology of the very early phagophore precursors has not been studied at the electron-microscopy level. We used live-cell imaging of cells expressing markers of phagophore biogenesis combined with correlative light-electron microscopy, as well as electron tomography of ATG2A/B-double-deficient cells, to reveal the high-resolution morphology of phagophore precursors in three dimensions. We showed that phagophores are closed or nearly closed into autophagosomes already at the stage when the omegasome diameter is still large. We further observed that phagophore precursors emerge next to the endoplasmic reticulum as bud-like highly curved membrane cisterns with a small opening to the cytosol. The phagophore precursors then open to form more flat cisterns that elongate and curve to form the classically described crescent-shaped phagophores.
Immunology Futures is a new articles series for Immunology & Cell Biology. Immunology Futures is designed as a forum to promote dialog with the immunology research community, in particular early-career researchers. The series aims to be a platform for career advice and to elevate the voices of diverse immunologists to provide multiple perspectives on a successful career in immunology.
NFKB1 haploinsufficiengcy was first described in 2015 in three families with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), presenting heterogeneously with symptoms of increased infectious susceptibility, skin lesions, malignant lymphoproliferation and autoimmunity. The described mutations all led to a rapid degradation of the mutant protein, resulting in a p50 haploinsufficient state. Since then, more than 50 other mutations have been reported, located throughout different domains of NFKB1 with the majority situated in the N-terminal Rel homology domain (RHD). The clinical spectrum has also expanded with possible disease manifestations in almost any organ system. In silico prediction tools are often used to estimate the pathogenicity of NFKB1 variants but to prove causality between disease and genetic findings, further downstream functional validation is required. In this report, we studied 2 families with CVID and two novel variants in (c.1638-2A>G and c.787G>C). Both mutations affected mRNA and/or protein expression of NFKB1 and resulted in excessive NLRP3 inflammasome activation in patient macrophages and upregulated interferon stimulated gene expression. Protein-protein interaction analysis demonstrated a loss of interaction with NFKB1 interaction partners for the p.V263L mutation. In conclusion, we proved pathogenicity of two novel variants in in two families with CVID characterized by variable and incomplete penetrance.
Natural killer (NK) cells are critical to immune surveillance against infections and cancer. Their role in immune surveillance requires that NK cells are present within tissues in a quiescent state. Mechanisms by which NK cells remain quiescent in tissues are incompletely elucidated. The transcriptional repressor BACH2 plays a critical role within the adaptive immune system, but its function within innate lymphocytes has been unclear. Here, we show that BACH2 acts as an intrinsic negative regulator of NK cell maturation and function. BACH2 is expressed within developing and mature NK cells and promotes the maintenance of immature NK cells by restricting their maturation in the presence of weak stimulatory signals. Loss of BACH2 within NK cells results in accumulation of activated NK cells with unrestrained cytotoxic function within tissues, which mediate augmented immune surveillance to pulmonary cancer metastasis. These findings establish a critical function of BACH2 as a global negative regulator of innate cytotoxic function and tumor immune surveillance by NK cells.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) that express the transcription factor Foxp3 have a critical role in limiting inflammatory processes and tissue damage. Whether Tregs are functional in maintaining epithelial barriers and in control of tight junction expression has not yet been explored. In this study, we investigated the effect of Treg deficiency on the airway epithelial barrier in an experimental murine model in which diphtheria toxin was repeatedly injected in Foxp3-diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) mice to deplete Tregs. This resulted in spontaneous peribronchial inflammation and led to a systemic and local increase of IL-4, IL-5, CCL3, IFN-γ, and IL-10 and a local (lung) increase of IL-6 and IL-33 and decreased amphiregulin levels. Moreover, Treg depletion increased airway permeability and decreased epithelial tight junction (protein and mRNA) expression. CTLA4-Ig treatment of Treg-depleted mice almost completely prevented barrier dysfunction together with suppression of lung inflammation and cytokine secretion. Treatment with anti-IL-4 partly reversed the effects of Treg depletion on tight junction expression, whereas neutralization of IL-6 of IFN-γ had either no effect or only a limited effect. We conclude that Tregs are essential to protect the epithelial barrier at the level of tight junctions by restricting spontaneous T cell activation and uncontrolled secretion of cytokines, in particular IL-4, in the bronchi.