The properties of CD4(+) regulatory T cell (Treg) subsets are dictated by distinct patterns of gene expression determined by FOXP3 and different combinations of various transcription factors. Here we show the NF-κB transcription factor RelA is constitutively active in naïve and effector Tregs. The conditional inactivation of Rela in murine FOXP3(+) cells induces a rapid onset, multi-focal autoimmune disease that depends on RelA being expressed in conventional T cells. In addition to promoting Treg lineage stability, RelA determines the size of the effector Treg population, a function influenced by the presence or absence of RelA in conventional T cells. These findings showing that RelA controls Treg stability and promotes the competitive fitness of effector Tregs highlight the importance of RelA activity in peripheral Treg induced tolerance.
Keywords: Autoimmune disease; Conditional gene targeting; Nuclear factor of kappaB; Regulatory T cells; RelA.
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