Coinhibitory receptors are critical for the maintenance of immune homeostasis. Upregulation of these receptors on effector T cells terminates T cell responses, while their expression on Tregs promotes their suppressor function. Understanding the function of coinhibitory receptors in effector T cells and Tregs is crucial, as therapies that target coinhibitory receptors are currently at the forefront of treatment strategies for cancer and other chronic diseases. T cell Ig and ITIM domain (TIGIT) is a recently identified coinhibitory receptor that is found on the surface of a variety of lymphoid cells, and its role in immune regulation is just beginning to be elucidated. We examined TIGIT-mediated immune regulation in different murine cancer models and determined that TIGIT marks the most dysfunctional subset of CD8+ T cells in tumor tissue as well as tumor-tissue Tregs with a highly active and suppressive phenotype. We demonstrated that TIGIT signaling in Tregs directs their phenotype and that TIGIT primarily suppresses antitumor immunity via Tregs and not CD8+ T cells. Moreover, TIGIT+ Tregs upregulated expression of the coinhibitory receptor TIM-3 in tumor tissue, and TIM-3 and TIGIT synergized to suppress antitumor immune responses. Our findings provide mechanistic insight into how TIGIT regulates immune responses in chronic disease settings.
Sema Kurtulus, Kaori Sakuishi, Shin-Foong Ngiow, Nicole Joller, Dewar J. Tan, Michele W.L. Teng, Mark J. Smyth, Vijay K. Kuchroo, Ana C. Anderson