Research Summary: Murine CD4 T Cells Produce a New Form of TGF-β as Measured by a Newly Developed TGF-β Bioassay



It is generally assumed that T cells do not produce active TGF-β since active TGF-β as measured in supernatants by ELISA without acidification is usually not detectable. However, it is possible that active TGF-β from T cells may take a special form which is not detectable by ELISA.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We constructed a TGF-β bioassay which can detect both soluble and membrane-bound forms of TGF-β from T cells. For this bioassay, 293T cells were transduced with (caga)12 Smad binding element-luciferase along with CD32 (Fc receptor) and CD86. The resulting cells act as artificial antigen presenting cells in the presence of anti-CD3 and produce luciferase in response to biologically active TGF-β. We co-cultured pre-activated murine CD4+CD25 T cells or CD4+CD25+ T cells with the 293T-caga-Luc-CD32-CD86 reporter cells in the presence of anti-CD3 and IL-2. CD4+CD25 T cells induced higher luciferase in the reporter cells than CD4+CD25+ T cells. This T cell-produced TGF-β is in a soluble form since T cell culture supernatants contained the TGF-β activity. The TGF-β activity was neutralized with an anti-mouse LAP mAb or an anti-latent TGF-β/pro-TGF-β mAb, but not with anti-active TGF-β Abs. An anti-mouse LAP mAb removed virtually all acid activatable latent TGF-β from the T cell culture supernatant, but not the ability to induce TGF-β signaling in the reporter cells. The induction of TGF-β signaling by T cell culture supernatants was cell type-specific.


A newly developed 293T-caga-Luc-CD32-CD86 reporter cell bioassay demonstrated that murine CD4 T cells produce an unconventional form of TGF-β which can induce TGF-β signaling. This new form of TGF-β contains LAP as a component. Our finding of a new form of T cell-produced TGF-β and the newly developed TGF-β bioassay system will provide a new avenue to investigate T cell function of the immune system.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 11-April-2011

Author(s): Oida T., Weiner H.


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