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Piezo1 channels restrain regulatory T cells but are dispensable for effector CD4+ T cell responses

Jairaman, A;Othy, S;Dynes, JL;Yeromin, AV;Zavala, A;Greenberg, ML;Nourse, JL;Holt, JR;Cahalan, SM;Marangoni, F;Parker, I;Pathak, MM;Cahalan, MD;

T lymphocytes encounter complex mechanical cues during an immune response. The mechanosensitive ion channel, Piezo1, drives inflammatory responses to bacterial infections, wound healing, and cancer; however, its role in helper T cell function remains unclear. In an animal model for multiple sclerosis, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), we found that mice with genetic deletion of Piezo1 in T cells showed diminished disease severity. Unexpectedly, Piezo1 was not essential for lymph node homing, interstitial motility, Ca2+ signaling, T cell proliferation, or differentiation into proinflammatory T helper 1 (TH1) and TH17 subsets. However, Piezo1 deletion in T cells resulted in enhanced transforming growth factor–β (TGFβ) signaling and an expanded pool of regulatory T (Treg) cells. Moreover, mice with deletion of Piezo1 specifically in Treg cells showed significant attenuation of EAE. Our results indicate that Piezo1 selectively restrains Treg cells, without influencing activation events or effector T cell functions.