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Immunity. 2002 Oct;17(4):437-49.

The ETS protein MEF plays a critical role in perforin gene expression and the development of natural killer and NK-T cells.

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Laboratory of Molecular Aspects of Hematopoiesis, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


We utilized gene targeting by homologous recombination to define the role that MEF, a transcriptional activating member of the ETS family of transcription factors, plays in lymphopoiesis. MEF-/- mice have a profound reduction in the number of NK-T and NK cells. Purified MEF-/- NK cells cannot lyse tumor cell targets and secrete only minimal amounts of IFNgamma. Perforin protein expression is severely impaired in MEF-deficient NK cells, likely accounting for the lack of tumor cell cytotoxicity. Promoter studies and chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses demonstrate that MEF and not ETS-1 directly regulates transcription of the perforin gene in NK cells. Our results uncover a specific role of MEF in the development and function of NK cells and in innate immunity.

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