Central immune tolerance depends on crosstalk between the classical and alternative NF-κB pathways in medullary thymic epithelial cells


  • M. Riemann
  • N. Andreas
  • M. Fedoseeva
  • E. Meier
  • D. Weih
  • H. Freytag
  • R. Schmidt-Ullrich
  • U. Klein
  • Z.Q. Wang
  • F. Weih


  • Journal of Autoimmunity


  • J Autoimmun 81: 56-67


  • Medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) contribute to self-tolerance by expressing and presenting peripheral tissue antigens for negative selection of autoreactive T cells and differentiation of natural regulatory T cells. The molecular control of mTEC development remains incompletely understood. We here demonstrate by TEC-specific gene manipulation in mice that the NF-{kappa}B transcription factor subunit RelB, which is activated by the alternative NF-{kappa}B pathway, regulates development of mature mTECs in a dose-dependent manner. Mice with conditional deletion of Relb lacked mature mTECs and developed spontaneous autoimmunity. In addition, the NF-{kappa}B subunits RelA and c-Rel, which are both activated by classical NF-{kappa}B signaling, were jointly required for mTEC differentiation by directly regulating the transcription of Relb. Our data reveal a crosstalk mechanism between classical and alternative NF-{kappa}B pathways that tightly controls the development of mature mTECs to ensure self-tolerance.