Primary immune regulatory disorders (PIRD) are a group of disorders characterized by immune dysregulation, presenting with a wide range of clinical disease including autoimmunity, autoinflammation, or lymphoproliferation. Autosomal dominant germline gain-of-function (GOF) variants in STAT3 result in a PIRD with a broad clinical spectrum. Studies in patients have documented a decreased frequency of FOXP3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells and an increased frequency of Th17 cells in some patients with active disease. However, the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in STAT3 GOF syndrome remain largely unknown, and treatment is challenging. We developed a knock-in mouse model harboring a de novo pathogenic human STAT3 variant (p.G421R) and found these mice developed T cell dysregulation, lymphoproliferation and CD4+ Th1 cell skewing. Surprisingly, Treg cell numbers, phenotype, and function remained largely intact, however mice had a selective deficiency in the generation of iTreg cells. In parallel, we performed single-cell RNA-sequencing on T cells from STAT3 GOF patients. We demonstrate only minor changes in the Treg cell transcriptional signature and an expanded, effector CD8+ T cell population. Together, these findings suggest Treg cells are not the primary driver of disease and highlight the importance of preclinical models in the study of disease mechanisms in rare PIRD.
Erica G. Schmitt, Kelsey A. Toth, Samuel I. Risma, Ana Kolicheski, Nermina Saucier, Rafael J. Feliciano Berríos, Zev J. Greenberg, Jennifer W. Leiding, Jack J. Bleesing, Akaluck Thatayatikom, Laura G. Schuettpelz, John R. Edwards, Tiphanie P. Vogel, Megan A. Cooper