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THEMIS enhances the magnitude of normal and neuroinflammatory type 1 immune responses by promoting TCR-independent signals

Yang, C;Blaize, G;Marrocco, R;Rouquié, N;Bories, C;Gador, M;Mélique, S;Joulia, E;Benamar, M;Dejean, AS;Daniels-Treffandier, H;Love, PE;Fazilleau, N;Saoudi, A;Lesourne, R;

Signals that determine the differentiation of naïve CD4+ T helper (TH) cells into specific effector cell subsets are primarily stimulated by cytokines, but additional signals are required to adjust the magnitude of TH cell responses and set the balance between effective immunity and immunological tolerance. By inducing the post-thymic deletion of the T cell lineage signaling protein THEMIS, we showed that THEMIS promoted the development of optimal type 1 immune responses to foreign antigens but stimulated signals that favored encephalitogenic responses to self-neuroantigens. THEMIS was required to stimulate the expression of the gene encoding the transcriptional regulator T-BET and the production of the cytokine interferon-? (IFN-?), and it enhanced the ability of encephalitogenic CD4+ T cells to migrate into the central nervous system. Consistently, analysis of THEMIS expression in polarized CD4+ T cells showed that THEMIS was selectively increased in abundance in TH1 cells. The stimulation of predifferentiated effector CD4+ T cells with antigen-presenting cells revealed a stimulatory function for THEMIS on type 1 cytokine responses, similar to those observed ex vivo after immunization. In contrast, THEMIS exerted opposing effects on naïve CD4+ T cells in vitro by inhibiting the T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated signals that lead to TH1 cell responses. These data suggest that THEMIS exerts TCR-independent functions in effector T cells, which increase the magnitude of normal and pathogenic TH1 cell-mediated responses.