Dormant pathogenic CD4+ T cells are prevalent in the peripheral repertoire of healthy mice

Anna Cebula, Michal Kuczma, Edyta Szurek, Maciej Pietrzak, Natasha Savage, Wessam R. Elhefnawy, Grzegorz Rempala, Piotr Kraj, Leszek Ignatowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Thymic central tolerance eliminates most immature T cells with autoreactive T cell receptors (TCR) that recognize self MHC/peptide complexes. Regardless, an unknown number of autoreactive CD4+Foxp3 T cells escape negative selection and in the periphery require continuous suppression by CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory cells (Tregs). Here, we compare immune repertoires of Treg-deficient and Treg-sufficient mice to find Tregs continuously constraining one-third of mature CD4+Foxp3 cells from converting to pathogenic effectors in healthy mice. These dormant pathogenic clones frequently express TCRs activatable by ubiquitous autoantigens presented by class II MHCs on conventional dendritic cells, including self-peptides that select them in the thymus. Our data thus suggest that identification of most potentially autoreactive CD4+ T cells in the peripheral repertoire is critical to harness or redirect these cells for therapeutic advantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4882
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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