DOI: 10.1084/jem.20062512 ISSN:

Adenosine generation catalyzed by CD39 and CD73 expressed on regulatory T cells mediates immune suppression

Silvia Deaglio, Karen M. Dwyer, Wenda Gao, David Friedman, Anny Usheva, Anna Erat, Jiang-Fan Chen, Keiichii Enjyoji, Joel Linden, Mohamed Oukka, Vijay K. Kuchroo, Terry B. Strom, Simon C. Robson
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

The study of T regulatory cells (T reg cells) has been limited by the lack of specific surface markers and an inability to define mechanisms of suppression. We show that the expression of CD39/ENTPD1 in concert with CD73/ecto-5′-nucleotidase distinguishes CD4+/CD25+/Foxp3+ T reg cells from other T cells. These ectoenzymes generate pericellular adenosine from extracellular nucleotides. The coordinated expression of CD39/CD73 on T reg cells and the adenosine A2A receptor on activated T effector cells generates immunosuppressive loops, indicating roles in the inhibitory function of T reg cells. Consequently, T reg cells from Cd39-null mice show impaired suppressive properties in vitro and fail to block allograft rejection in vivo. We conclude that CD39 and CD73 are surface markers of T reg cells that impart a specific biochemical signature characterized by adenosine generation that has functional relevance for cellular immunoregulation.

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