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The transcription factor FOXP3 plays a key role in CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cell function and represents a specific marker for these cells. Despite its strong association with regulatory T cell function, in humans little is known about the frequency of CD4(+)CD25(+) cells that express FOXP3 protein nor the distribution of these cells in vivo. Here we report the characterization of seven anti-FOXP3 monoclonal antibodies enabling the detection of endogenous human FOXP3 protein by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Flow-cytometric analysis showed that FOXP3 was expressed by the majority of CD4(+)CD25(high) T cells in peripheral blood. By contrast, less than half of the CD4(+)CD25(int) population were FOXP3(+), providing an explanation for observations in human T cells that regulatory activity is enriched within the CD4(+)CD25(high) pool. Although FOXP3 expression was primarily restricted to CD4(+)CD25(+) cells, it was induced following activation of both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell clones. These findings indicate that the frequency of FOXP3(+) cells correlates with the level of expression of CD25 in naturally arising regulatory T cells and that FOXP3 protein is expressed by some activated CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell clones. These reagents represent valuable research tools to further investigate FOXP3 function and are applicable for routine clinical use.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/eji.200526189

Type

Journal article

Journal

European journal of immunology

Publication Date

06/2005

Volume

35

Pages

1681 - 1691

Addresses

Monoclonal Antibodies Unit, Biotechnology Program, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), Madrid, Spain.

Keywords

Animals, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Humans, Mice, DNA-Binding Proteins, Receptors, Interleukin-2, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Lymphocyte Activation, Cross Reactions, Immune Tolerance, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Forkhead Transcription Factors