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Central tolerance aims to limit the production of T lymphocytes bearing TCR with high affinity for self-peptide presented by MHC molecules. The accumulation of thymocytes with such receptors is limited by negative selection or by diversion into alternative differentiation, including T regulatory cell commitment. A role for the orphan nuclear receptor NR4A3 in negative selection has been suggested, but its function in this process has never been investigated. We find that Nr4a3 transcription is upregulated in postselection double-positive thymocytes, particularly those that have received a strong selecting signal and are destined for negative selection. Indeed, we found an accumulation of cells bearing a negative selection phenotype in NR4A3-deficient mice as compared with wild-type controls, suggesting that Nr4a3 transcriptional induction is necessary to limit accumulation of self-reactive thymocytes. This is consistent with a decrease of cleaved caspase-3+-signaled thymocytes and more T regulatory and CD4+Foxp3-HELIOS+ cells in the NR4A3-deficient thymus. We further tested the role for NR4A3 in negative selection by reconstituting transgenic mice expressing the OVA Ag under the control of the insulin promoter with bone marrow cells from OT-I Nr4a3 +/+ or OT-I Nr4a3 -/- mice. Accumulation of autoreactive CD8 thymocytes and autoimmune diabetes developed only in the absence of NR4A3. Overall, our results demonstrate an important role for NR4A3 in T cell development. Copyright © 2021 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


Salix Boulet, Livia Odagiu, Mengqi Dong, Marie-Ève Lebel, Jean-François Daudelin, Heather J Melichar, Nathalie Labrecque. NR4A3 Mediates Thymic Negative Selection. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2021 Aug 15;207(4):1055-1064

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PMID: 34312259

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