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J Immunol. 2014 Feb 1;192(3):985-95. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1302378. Epub 2013 Dec 23.

Bach2 regulates homeostasis of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and protects against fatal lung disease in mice.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706;


Variants of the Bach2 gene are linked to vitiligo, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes, but the underlying immunological mechanisms are unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that Bach2 plays crucial roles in maintaining T cell quiescence and governing the differentiation, activation, and survival of Foxp3(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells. Bach2-deficient T cells display spontaneous activation and produce elevated levels of Th1/Th2-type cytokines. Without Bach2, Treg cells exhibit diminished Foxp3 expression, depleted numbers, hyperactivation, enhanced proliferation, and profound loss of competitive fitness in vivo. Mechanistically, reduced survival of Bach2-deficient Treg cells was associated with reduced Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 levels and elevated Bim/Bcl-2 ratio. Additionally, Bach2 deficiency induced selective loss of Helios(-)Foxp3(+) Treg cells and a Treg cell transcriptome skewed toward the Th1/Th2 effector program at the expense of the Treg program. In vitro experiments confirmed that Bach2: 1) is indispensable for TCR/TGF-β-induced Foxp3 expression; and 2) mitigates aberrant differentiation of Treg cells by repression of the competing Gata3-driven Th2 effector program. Importantly, perturbations in the differentiation of induced Treg cells was linked to a fatal Th2-type chronic inflammatory lung disease in Bach2-deficient mice. Thus, Bach2 enforces T cell quiescence, promotes the development and survival of Treg lineage, restrains aberrant differentiation of Treg cells, and protects against immune-mediated diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
[Available on 2015/2/1]

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