Regulatory T cells (Treg) are an important subset of T lymphocytes which play a key role in maintaining peripheral immunological tolerance. The most studied subpopulation of Treg in mice and humans are natural Treg, which differentiate in the thymus and are identified by expression of CD4, high levels of IL-2Rα (CD25), and forkhead box P3 (Foxp3), a transcription factor intimately associated with Treg function. We and others have previously identified Foxp3(+) T cells in ovine tissue, suggesting that Treg exist in this species. However, the existence of putative natural Treg in sheep, as identified by co-expression of CD4, CD25 and Foxp3, has yet to be determined. In this study we demonstrate that the anti-rat/mouse Foxp3 monoclonal antibody FJK-16s cross-reacts with ovine Foxp3. Using a transfected Chinese hamster ovary cell line that constitutively expresses recombinant ovine Foxp3 as a positive control, we have developed a sensitive triple-labelling flow cytometry protocol to simultaneously label CD4, CD25 and Foxp3. We demonstrate that Foxp3(+) T lymphocytes exist in ovine peripheral blood, and that the majority of Foxp3 expression occurs within the CD4(+)CD25(hi) population. These results are consistent with those seen in other mammalian species and indicate that putative natural Treg exist in sheep.
- Blotting, Western
- CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
- Flow Cytometry
- Forkhead Transcription Factors
- Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
- T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory