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Foxp3 activity is essential for the normal function of the immune system. Two types of regulatory T (T reg) cells express Foxp3, thymus-generated natural T reg (nT reg) cells, and peripherally generated adaptive T reg (iT reg) cells. These cell types have complementary functions. Until now, it has not been possible to distinguish iT reg from nT reg cells in vivo based solely on surface markers. We report here that Neuropilin 1 (Nrp1) is expressed at high levels by most nT reg cells; in contrast, mucosa-generated iT reg and other noninflammatory iT reg cells express low levels of Nrp1. We found that Nrp1 expression is under the control of TGF-β. By tracing nT reg and iT reg cells, we could establish that some tumors have a very large proportion of infiltrating iT reg cells. iT reg cells obtained from highly inflammatory environments, such as the spinal cords of mice with spontaneous autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and the lungs of mice with chronic asthma, express Nrp1. In the same animals, iT reg cells in secondary lymphoid organs remain Nrp1(low). We also determined that, in spontaneous EAE, iT reg cells help to establish a chronic phase of the disease.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of experimental medicine

Publication Date





1723 - S1


Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at the Skirball Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Intestines, Thymus Gland, Mucous Membrane, Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating, Cell Membrane, Animals, Mice, Transgenic, Mice, Inflammation, Transforming Growth Factor beta, Neuropilin-1, Lymphocyte Activation, Gene Expression Regulation, Cell Lineage, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Metagenome