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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Microbiology and Immunology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Robert W. Hoffman

Second Committee Member

Robert B. Levy

Third Committee Member

Norma S. Kenyon

Fourth Committee Member

Wei Li

Fifth Committee Member

Thomas R. Malek


CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells are critical in maintaining self tolerance and promoting the acceptance of allogeneic tissue/organ grafts. To be widely applied in clinical settings, there needs to be a readily available source of Treg cells, a requirement that is better met if non-histocompatible donor cells could be utilized in adoptive therapy. Therefore, to investigate the therapeutic potential of fully allogeneic Treg cells to control autoimmune disease or allograft rejection, we utilized IL-2R beta-deficient mice that exhibit rapid lethal autoimmunity due to low production of an ineffective population of Treg cells. We show that adoptive transfer of MHC-mismatched Treg cells into IL-2R beta-/- mice resulted in life-long engraftment of the donor cells, which exhibited skewed reactivity toward host alloantigens, and prevented autoimmunity. When such animals received skin grafts, they exhibited tolerance to those grafts that expressed MHC molecules from which the donor Treg cells were derived. Collectively, these data provide proof-of-principle that effective engraftment by allogeneic Treg cells controls autoimmunity and leads to favorable conditions for long-term acceptance of allografts. Current data indicates that CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Treg cells exhibit a broad TCR repertoire. However, the relationship between this diversity and capacity to control a similarly diverse population of potentially autoreactive T cells remains to be defined. To investigate this issue, we assessed the TCR repertoire of chimeric donor Treg cells in IL-2R beta-/- mice that were adoptively treated with a diverse polyclonal Treg inoculums. We demonstrate that autoimmune disease was fully prevented by engrafted donor Treg cells in spite of a TCR repertoire that is less diverse than the input cells. However, in settings where the input TCR repertoire is limited by utilizing donor Treg cells that express a single TCR beta chain, control of disease was hampered, correlating with a limited TCR alpha repertoire within the engrafting donor Treg cells. Collectively, these findings suggest that for adoptive therapy, a diverse TCR repertoire of input Treg cell inoculums is an essential requirement for effective control of polyclonal autoreactive T cells but perturbations in the repertoire that results in significant limitation to this diversity may compromise Treg cell efficacy at fully keeping autoaggressive cells in check.


Cell-based Therapy; Graft Rejection; Autoreactivity; Immune Regulation