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The ubiquitin ligase Stub1 negatively modulates regulatory T cell suppressive activity by promoting degradation of the transcription factor Foxp3.

Chen Z., Barbi J., Bu S., Yang H.Y., Li Z., Gao Y., Jinasena D., Fu J., Lin F., Chen C., Zhang J., Yu N., Li X., Shan Z., Nie J., Gao Z., Tian H., Li Y., Yao Z., Zheng Y., Park B.V., Pan Z., Zhang J., Dang E., Li Z., Wang H., Luo W., Li L., Semenza G.L., Zheng S.G., Loser K., Tsun A., Greene M.I., Pardoll D.M., Pan F., Li B.

Regulatory T (Treg) cells suppress inflammatory immune responses and autoimmunity caused by self-reactive T cells. The key Treg cell transcription factor Foxp3 is downregulated during inflammation to allow for the acquisition of effector T cell-like functions. Here, we demonstrate that stress signals elicited by proinflammatory cytokines and lipopolysaccharides lead to the degradation of Foxp3 through the action of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Stub1. Stub1 interacted with Foxp3 to promote its K48-linked polyubiquitination in an Hsp70-dependent manner. Knockdown of endogenous Stub1 or Hsp70 prevented Foxp3 degradation. Furthermore, the overexpression of Stub1 in Treg cells abrogated their ability to suppress inflammatory immune responses in vitro and in vivo and conferred a T-helper-1-cell-like phenotype. Our results demonstrate the critical role of the stress-activated Stub1-Hsp70 complex in promoting Treg cell inactivation, thus providing a potential therapeutic target for the intervention against autoimmune disease, infection, and cancer.

Immunity 39:272-285(2013) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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