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Nature. 2005 Feb 24;433(7028):826-33.

The zinc finger transcription factor Th-POK regulates CD4 versus CD8 T-cell lineage commitment.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, 7701 Burholme Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19111, USA.


Development of immature T-cell precursors (thymocytes) to either the CD4 helper or CD8 killer T-cell lineages correlates precisely with their T-cell receptor specificity for major histocompatibility complex class II or class I molecules, respectively, indicating that the process is carefully regulated. Although intensively studied owing to its importance in determining the composition of the mature T-cell compartment and as a general model of binary lineage decisions, the underlying molecular pathways remain obscure. We have previously reported a spontaneous mouse mutant (HD (helper deficient) mice) in which lineage commitment is specifically perturbed without affecting positive selection. Here we show that a point mutation in the zinc finger transcription factor Th-POK (T-helper-inducing POZ/Kr├╝ppel-like factor) is responsible for redirection of class-II-restricted thymocytes to the CD8 lineage in HD mice. Furthermore, we demonstrate that constitutive expression of this factor during thymic development leads to redirection of class-I-restricted thymocytes to the CD4 lineage, indicating that Th-POK is a master regulator of lineage commitment.

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