We show that the T-cell immunoglobalin mucin, Tim-1, initially reported to be expressed on CD4(+) T cells, is constitutively expressed on dendritic cells (DCs) and that its expression further increases after DC maturation. Tim-1 signaling into DCs upregulates costimulatory molecule expression and proinflammatory cytokine production, thereby promoting effector T-cell responses, while inhibiting Foxp3(+) Treg responses. By contrast, Tim-1 signaling in T cells only regulates Th2 responses. Using a high-avidity/agonistic anti-Tim-1 antibody as a co-adjuvant enhances the immunogenic function of DCs, decreases the suppressive function of Tregs, and substantially increases proinflammatory Th17 responses in vivo. The treatment with high- but not low-avidity anti-Tim-1 not only worsens experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in susceptible mice but also breaks tolerance and induces EAE in a genetically resistant strain of mice. These findings indicate that Tim-1 has an important role in regulating DC function and thus shifts the balance between effector and regulatory T cells towards an enhanced immune response. By understanding the mechanisms by which Tim-1 regulates DC and T-cell responses, we may clarify the potential utility of Tim-1 as a target of therapy against autoimmunity, cancer, and infectious diseases.
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