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Immunity. 2002 May;16(5):649-60.

Th2 lineage commitment and efficient IL-4 production involves extended demethylation of the IL-4 gene.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School and The Center for Blood Research, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The relation of CpG methylation to gene silencing is well established, but the contribution of DNA demethylation to gene expression during cell differentiation remains unclear. We show that the IL-4 locus undergoes a complex series of methylation and demethylation steps during T helper cell differentiation. The 5' region of the IL-4 locus is hypermethylated in naive T cells and becomes specifically demethylated in Th2 cells, whereas a highly conserved DNase I-hypersensitive region at the 3' end shows the converse behavior, being hypomethylated in naive T cells and becoming methylated during Th1 differentiation. 5' demethylation is not required for chromatin remodeling or primary transcription of the IL-4 gene but is strongly associated with efficient, high-level induction of IL-4 transcripts by differentiated Th2 cells.

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