Type 1 diabetes-associated IL2RA variation lowers IL-2 signaling and contributes to diminished CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell function.
Garg G., Tyler JR., Yang JHM., Cutler AJ., Downes K., Pekalski M., Bell GL., Nutland S., Peakman M., Todd JA., Wicker LS., Tree TIM.
Numerous reports have demonstrated that CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) from individuals with a range of human autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, are deficient in their ability to control autologous proinflammatory responses when compared with nondiseased, control individuals. Treg dysfunction could be a primary, causal event or may result from perturbations in the immune system during disease development. Polymorphisms in genes associated with Treg function, such as IL2RA, confer a higher risk of autoimmune disease. Although this suggests a primary role for defective Tregs in autoimmunity, a link between IL2RA gene polymorphisms and Treg function has not been examined. We addressed this by examining the impact of an IL2RA haplotype associated with type 1 diabetes on Treg fitness and suppressive function. Studies were conducted using healthy human subjects to avoid any confounding effects of disease. We demonstrated that the presence of an autoimmune disease-associated IL2RA haplotype correlates with diminished IL-2 responsiveness in Ag-experienced CD4(+) T cells, as measured by phosphorylation of STAT5a, and is associated with lower levels of FOXP3 expression by Tregs and a reduction in their ability to suppress proliferation of autologous effector T cells. These data offer a rationale that contributes to the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which polymorphisms in the IL-2RA gene affect immune regulation, and consequently upon susceptibility to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.