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Front Cell Dev Biol


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are innate-like T cells that develop in the thymus through three maturation stages to acquire effector function and differentiate into MAIT1 (T-bet(+)) and MAIT17 (RORγt(+)) subsets. Upon activation, MAIT cells release IFN-γ and IL-17, which modulate a broad spectrum of diseases. Recent studies indicate defective MAIT cell development in microRNA deficient mice, however, few individual miRNAs have been identified to regulate MAIT cells. MicroRNA-155 (miR-155) is a key regulator of numerous cellular processes that affect some immune cell development, but its role in MAIT cell development remains unclear. To address whether miR-155 is required for MAIT cell development, we performed gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies. We first generated a CD4Cre.miR-155 knock-in mouse model, in which miR-155 is over-expressed in the T cell lineage. We found that overexpression of miR-155 significantly reduced numbers and frequencies of MAIT cells in all immune organs and lungs and blocked thymic MAIT cell maturation through downregulating PLZF expression. Strikingly, upregulated miR-155 promoted MAIT1 differentiation and blocked MAIT17 differentiation, and timely inducible expression of miR-155 functionally inhibited peripheral MAIT cells secreting IL-17. miR-155 overexpression also increased CD4(-)CD8(+) subset and decreased CD4(-)CD8(-) subset of MAIT cells. We further analyzed MAIT cells in conventional miR-155 knockout mice and found that lack of miR-155 also promoted MAIT1 differentiation and blocked MAIT17 differentiation but without alteration of their overall frequency, maturation and function. Overall, our results indicate that adequate miR-155 expression is required for normal MAIT1 and MAIT17 cell development and function.

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