Relative upregulation of the Ikaros family transcription factor Helios in natural regulatory T cells (Tregs) has been reported by several groups. However, a role for Helios in regulatory T cells has not yet been described. Here, we show that Helios is upregulated in CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments indicated that Helios binds to the FoxP3 promoter. These data were further corroborated by experiments showing that knocking-down Helios with siRNA oligonucleotides results in down-regulation of FoxP3. Functionally, we found that suppression of Helios message in CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells significantly attenuates their suppressive function. Taken together, these data suggest that Helios may play an important role in regulatory T cell function and support the concept that Helios may be a novel target to manipulate Treg activity in a clinical setting.
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