Chronic infections induce a complex immune response that controls pathogen replication, but also causes pathology due to sustained inflammation. Ca2+ influx mediates T cell function and immunity to infection, and patients with inherited mutations in the gene encoding the Ca2+ channel ORAI1 or its activator stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) are immunodeficient and prone to chronic infection by various pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Here, we demonstrate that STIM1 is required for T cell–mediated immune regulation during chronic Mtb infection. Compared with WT animals, mice with T cell–specific Stim1 deletion died prematurely during the chronic phase of infection and had increased bacterial burdens and severe pulmonary inflammation, with increased myeloid and lymphoid cell infiltration. Although STIM1-deficient T cells exhibited markedly reduced IFN-γ production during the early phase of Mtb infection, bacterial growth was not immediately exacerbated. During the chronic phase, however, STIM1-deficient T cells displayed enhanced IFN-γ production in response to elevated levels of IL-12 and IL-18. The lack of STIM1 in T cells was associated with impaired activation-induced cell death upon repeated TCR engagement and pulmonary lymphocytosis and hyperinflammation in Mtb-infected mice. Chronically Mtb-infected, STIM1-deficient mice had reduced levels of inducible regulatory T cells (iTregs) due to a T cell–intrinsic requirement for STIM1 in iTreg differentiation and excessive production of IFN-γ and IL-12, which suppress iTreg differentiation and maintenance. Thus, STIM1 controls multiple aspects of T cell–mediated immune regulation to limit injurious inflammation during chronic infection.
Ludovic Desvignes, Carl Weidinger, Patrick Shaw, Martin Vaeth, Theo Ribierre, Menghan Liu, Tawania Fergus, Lina Kozhaya, Lauren McVoy, Derya Unutmaz, Joel D. Ernst, Stefan Feske
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