NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK, MAP3K14) is a key signaling molecule in non-canonical NF-κB activation, and NIK deficient mice have been instrumental in deciphering the immunologic role of this pathway. Global ablation of NIK prevents lymph node development, impairs thymic stromal development, and drastically reduces B cells. Despite altered thymic selection, T cell numbers are near normal in NIK deficient mice. The exception is CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), which are reduced in the thymus and periphery. Defects in thymic stroma are known to contribute to impaired Treg generation, but whether NIK also plays a cell intrinsic role in Tregs is unknown. Here, we compared intact mice with single and mixed BM chimeric mice to assess the intrinsic role of NIK in Treg generation and maintenance. We found that while NIK expression in stromal cells suffices for normal thymic Treg development, NIK is required cell-intrinsically to maintain peripheral Tregs. In addition, we unexpectedly discovered a cell-intrinsic role for NIK in memory phenotype conventional T cells that is masked in intact mice, but revealed in BM chimeras. These results demonstrate a novel role for NIK in peripheral regulatory and memory phenotype T cell homeostasis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences