Povoleri GAM, Nova-Lamperti E, Scottà C, Fanelli G, Chen YC, Becker PD, Boardman D, Costantini B, Romano M, Pavlidis P, McGregor R, Pantazi E, Chauss D, Sun HW, Shih HY, Cousins DJ, Cooper N, Powell N, Kemper C, Pirooznia M, Laurence A, Kordasti S, Kazemi
Repair of tissue damaged during inflammatory processes is key to the return of local homeostasis and restoration of epithelial integrity. Here we describe CD161 regulatory T (T) cells as a distinct, highly suppressive population of T cells that mediate wound healing. These T cells were enriched in intestinal lamina propria, particularly in Crohn's disease. CD161 T cells had an all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)-regulated gene signature, and CD161 expression on T cells was induced by ATRA, which directly regulated the CD161 gene. CD161 was co-stimulatory, and ligation with the T cell antigen receptor induced cytokines that accelerated the wound healing of intestinal epithelial cells. We identified a transcription-factor network, including BACH2, RORγt, FOSL2, AP-1 and RUNX1, that controlled expression of the wound-healing program, and found a CD161 T cell signature in Crohn's disease mucosa associated with reduced inflammation. These findings identify CD161 T cells as a population involved in controlling the balance between inflammation and epithelial barrier healing in the gut.