Regulatory T cells (Treg) are crucial mediators of immune control. The characteristic gene expression and suppressive function of Treg depend considerably on the stable expression and activity of the transcription factor Foxp3. While transcriptional regulation of the Foxp3 gene has been studied in depth, both the expression and function of Foxp3 are also modulated at the protein level. However, the molecular players involved in posttranslational Foxp3 regulation are just beginning to be elucidated. Here we found TRAF6-deficient Tregs were dysfunctional in vivo; mice with Treg-restricted deletion of TRAF6 were resistant to B16 melanomas and displayed enhanced anti-tumor immunity. We further determined that Foxp3 undergoes lysine-63 chain (K63) ubiquitination at lysine 262 mediated by the E3 ligase TRAF6. When deprived of TRAF6 activity or rendered insensitive to K63 ubiquitination, Foxp3 displayed aberrant, perinuclear accumulation, disrupted function. Thus, Foxp3 ubiquitination by TRAF6 ensures proper localization of Foxp3 and facilitates Foxp3’s gene-regulating activity in Tregs. These results implicate TRAF6 as a key posttranslational, Treg-stabilizing force that may be targeted in novel tolerance-breaking therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
- General Immunology and Microbiology
- General Neuroscience
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)