Development and Function of FOXP3 + Regulators of Immune Responses

Clin Exp Immunol. 2023 Apr 22;uxad048. doi: 10.1093/cei/uxad048. Online ahead of print.


The Forkhead Box P3 (FOXP3) protein is an essential transcription factor for the development and function of regulatory T cells (Tregs), involved in the maintenance of immunological tolerance. Although extensive research over the last decade has investigated the critical role of FOXP3 + cells in preserving immune homeostasis, our understanding of their specific functions remains limited. Therefore, unveiling the molecular mechanisms underpinning the up- and downstream transcriptional regulation of and by FOXP3 is crucial for developing Treg-targeted therapeutics. Dysfunctions in FOXP3 + Tregs have also been found to be inherent drivers of autoimmune disorders, and have been shown to exhibit multifaceted functions in the context of cancer. Recent research suggests that these cells may also be involved in tissue-specific repair and regeneration. Herein, we summarize current understanding of the thymic-transcriptional regulatory landscape of FOXP3 + Tregs, their epigenetic modulators, and associated signaling pathways. Lastly, we highlight the contributions of FOXP3 on the functional development of Tregs, and reflect on the clinical implications in the context of pathological and physiological immune responses.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; FOXP3; Regulatory T cells; Therapeutics; Thymus.