Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27425617
Cell Rep 2016 Jul;16(4):1055-66
Foxp3-expressing regulatory T (Treg) cells are essential for immune tolerance; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying Treg cell expansion and function are still not well understood. SUMOylation is a protein post-translational modification characterized by covalent attachment of SUMO moieties to lysines. UBC9 is the only E2 conjugating enzyme involved in this process, and loss of UBC9 completely abolishes the SUMOylation pathway. Here, we report that selective deletion of Ubc9 within the Treg lineage results in fatal early-onset autoimmunity similar to Foxp3 mutant mice. Ubc9-deficient Treg cells exhibit severe defects in TCR-driven homeostatic proliferation, accompanied by impaired activation and compromised suppressor function. Importantly, TCR ligation enhanced SUMOylation of IRF4, a critical regulator of Treg cell function downstream of TCR signals, which regulates its stability in Treg cells. Our data thus have demonstrated an essential role of SUMOylation in the expansion and function of Treg cells.