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      Metabolites produced by commensal bacteria promote peripheral regulatory T cell generation

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          Intestinal microbes provide multicellular hosts with nutrients and confer resistance to infection. The delicate balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms, essential for gut immune homeostasis, is affected by the composition of the commensal microbial community. Regulatory T (Treg) cells expressing transcription factor Foxp3 play a key role in limiting inflammatory responses in the intestine 1 . Although specific members of the commensal microbial community have been found to potentiate the generation of anti-inflammatory Treg or pro-inflammatory Th17 cells 2- 6 , the molecular cues driving this process remain elusive. Considering the vital metabolic function afforded by commensal microorganisms, we hypothesized that their metabolic by-products are sensed by cells of the immune system and affect the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cells. We found that a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), butyrate, produced by commensal microorganisms during starch fermentation, facilitated extrathymic generation of Treg cells. A boost in Treg cell numbers upon provision of butyrate was due to potentiation of extrathymic differentiation of Treg cells as the observed phenomenon was dependent upon intronic enhancer CNS1, essential for extrathymic, but dispensable for thymic Treg cell differentiation 1, 7 . In addition to butyrate, de novo Treg cell generation in the periphery was potentiated by propionate, another SCFA of microbial origin capable of HDAC inhibition, but not acetate, lacking this activity. Our results suggest that bacterial metabolites mediate communication between the commensal microbiota and the immune system, affecting the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

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          Regulatory T cell lineage specification by the forkhead transcription factor foxp3.

          Regulatory T cell-mediated dominant tolerance has been demonstrated to play an important role in the prevention of autoimmunity. Here, we present data arguing that the forkhead transcription factor Foxp3 acts as the regulatory T cell lineage specification factor and mediator of the genetic mechanism of dominant tolerance. We show that expression of Foxp3 is highly restricted to the subset alphabeta of T cells and, irrespective of CD25 expression, correlates with suppressor activity. Induction of Foxp3 expression in nonregulatory T cells does not occur during pathogen-driven immune responses, and Foxp3 deficiency does not impact the functional responses of nonregulatory T cells. Furthermore, T cell-specific ablation of Foxp3 is sufficient to induce the identical early onset lymphoproliferative syndrome observed in Foxp3-deficient mice. Analysis of Foxp3 expression during thymic development suggests that this mechanism is not hard-wired but is dependent on TCR/MHC ligand interactions.
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            GPR109A is a G-protein-coupled receptor for the bacterial fermentation product butyrate and functions as a tumor suppressor in colon.

            Short-chain fatty acids, generated in colon by bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber, protect against colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Among these bacterial metabolites, butyrate is biologically most relevant. GPR109A is a G-protein-coupled receptor for nicotinate but recognizes butyrate with low affinity. Millimolar concentrations of butyrate are needed to activate the receptor. Although concentrations of butyrate in colonic lumen are sufficient to activate the receptor maximally, there have been no reports on the expression/function of GPR109A in this tissue. Here we show that GPR109A is expressed in the lumen-facing apical membrane of colonic and intestinal epithelial cells and that the receptor recognizes butyrate as a ligand. The expression of GPR109A is silenced in colon cancer in humans, in a mouse model of intestinal/colon cancer, and in colon cancer cell lines. The tumor-associated silencing of GPR109A involves DNA methylation directly or indirectly. Reexpression of GPR109A in colon cancer cells induces apoptosis, but only in the presence of its ligands butyrate and nicotinate. Butyrate is an inhibitor of histone deacetylases, but apoptosis induced by activation of GPR109A with its ligands in colon cancer cells does not involve inhibition of histone deacetylation. The primary changes in this apoptotic process include down-regulation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and cyclin D1 and up-regulation of death receptor pathway. In addition, GPR109A/butyrate suppresses nuclear factor-kappaB activation in normal and cancer colon cell lines as well as in normal mouse colon. These studies show that GPR109A mediates the tumor-suppressive effects of the bacterial fermentation product butyrate in colon.
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              Regulation of Treg functionality by acetylation-mediated Foxp3 protein stabilization.

              Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a specific subset of lymphocytes that are critical for the maintenance of self-tolerance. Expression levels of the transcription factor Foxp3 have been causally associated with Treg differentiation and function. Recent studies show that Foxp3 can also be transiently expressed in effector T cells; however, stable Foxp3 expression is required for development of a functional Treg suppressor phenotype. Here, we demonstrate that Foxp3 is acetylated, and this can be reciprocally regulated by the histone acetyltransferase p300 and the histone deacetylase SIRT1. Hyperacetylation of Foxp3 prevented polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, therefore dramatically increasing stable Foxp3 protein levels. Moreover, using mouse splenocytes, human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, T cell clones, and skin-derived T cells, we demonstrate that treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors resulted in significantly increased numbers of functional Treg cells. Taken together, our data demonstrate that modulation of the acetylation state of Foxp3 provides a novel molecular mechanism for assuring rapid temporal control of Foxp3 levels in T cells, thereby regulating Treg numbers and functionality. Manipulating Foxp3 acetylation levels could therefore provide a new therapeutic strategy to control inappropriate (auto)immune responses.

                Author and article information

                29 November 2013
                13 November 2013
                19 December 2013
                19 June 2014
                : 504
                : 7480
                [1 ]Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Ludwig Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
                [2 ]Immunology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA
                [3 ]Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Cell Metabolism Core Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA
                [5 ]Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf 40225, Germany
                [6 ]Department of Cell Biology, University Medical Center Utrecht, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to A.Y.R. ( rudenska@ )

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                Funded by: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Extramural Activities : NIAID
                Award ID: R37 AI034206 || AI
                Funded by: Howard Hughes Medical Institute :
                Award ID: || HHMI_



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