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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Nov;35(11):3307-19.

Identification of genes involved in the initiation of human Th1 or Th2 cell commitment.

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Turku Centre for Biotechnology, University of Turku/Abo Akademi University, Turku, Finland.


The differentiation of naïve T helper (Th) cells is induced by TCR activation and IL-12/STAT4 or IL-4/STAT6 signaling pathways, forming Th1 and Th2 cells, respectively. In this study, oligonucleotide arrays were used to identify genes regulated during the initiation of human Th1 and Th2 cell differentiation at 2 and 6 h in presence or absence of immunosuppressive TGF-beta. As a result the immediate targets of IL-12, IL-4 and TGF-beta were identified. The effects of IL-12 at this early stage were minimal and consistent with the known kinetics of IL-12Rbeta2 expression. IL-4, however, was observed to rapidly regulate 63 genes, 26 of which were differentially expressed at both the 2- and 6-h time points. Of these IL-4 regulated genes, one-third have previously been observed to display expression changes in the later phases of the polarization process. Similarly to the key regulators, TBX21 and GATA3, the transcription factors SATB1, TCF7 and BCL6 were differentially regulated at the protein level during early Th1 and Th2 cell polarization. Moreover, the developing Th1 and Th2 cells were demonstrated to be responsive to the immunosuppressive TGF-beta and IL-10. In this study, a panel of novel factors that may be important regulators of the differentiation process was identified.

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