Discovery of surrogate agonists for visceral fat Treg cells that modulate metabolic indices in vivo
Fernandes RA., Li C., Wang G., Yang X., Savvides CS., Glassman CR., Dong S., Luxenberg E., Sibener LV., Birnbaum ME., Benoist C., Mathis D., Garcia KC.
T regulatory (Treg) cells play vital roles in modulating immunity and tissue homeostasis. Their actions depend on TCR recognition of peptide-MHC molecules; yet the degree of peptide specificity of Treg-cell function, and whether Treg ligands can be used to manipulate Treg cell biology are unknown. Here, we developed an Ab-peptide library that enabled unbiased screening of peptides recognized by a bona fide murine Treg cell clone isolated from the visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and identified surrogate agonist peptides, with differing affinities and signaling potencies. The VAT-Treg cells expanded in vivo by one of the surrogate agonists preserved the typical VAT-Treg transcriptional programs. Immunization with this surrogate, especially when coupled with blockade of TNFα signaling, expanded VAT-Treg cells, resulting in protection from inflammation and improved metabolic indices, including promotion of insulin sensitivity. These studies suggest that antigen-specific targeting of VAT-localized Treg cells could eventually be a strategy for improving metabolic disease.