TRIM28 is a component of heterochromatin complexes whose function in the immune system is unknown. By studying mice with conditional T cell-specific deletion of TRIM28 (CKO mice), we found that TRIM28 was phosphorylated after stimulation via the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) and was involved in the global regulation of CD4+ T cells. The CKO mice had a spontaneous autoimmune phenotype that was due in part to early lymphopenia associated with a defect in the production of interleukin 2 (IL-2) as well as incomplete cell-cycle progression of their T cells. In addition, CKO T cells showed derepression of the cytokine TGF-β3, which resulted in an altered cytokine balance; this caused the accumulation of autoreactive cells of the T H17 subset of helper T cells and of Foxp3+ T cells. Notably, CKO Foxp3+ T cells were unable to prevent the autoimmune phenotype in vivo. Our results show critical roles for TRIM28 in both T cell activation and T cell tolerance.
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