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J Exp Med. 2006 Mar 20;203(3):755-66. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

T-bet regulates Th1 responses through essential effects on GATA-3 function rather than on IFNG gene acetylation and transcription.

Author information

Mucosal Immunity Section, Laboratory of Host Defenses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Exp Med. 2006 Apr 17;203(4):1129.


T helper type 1 (Th1) development is facilitated by interrelated changes in key intracellular factors, particularly signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)4, T-bet, and GATA-3. Here we show that CD4+ cells from T-bet-/- mice are skewed toward Th2 differentiation by high endogenous GATA-3 levels but exhibit virtually normal Th1 differentiation provided that GATA-3 levels are regulated at an early stage by anti-interleukin (IL)-4 blockade of IL-4 receptor (R) signaling. In addition, under these conditions, Th1 cells from T-bet-/- mice manifest IFNG promotor accessibility as detected by histone acetylation and deoxyribonuclease I hypersensitivity. In related studies, we show that the negative effect of GATA-3 on Th1 differentiation in T-bet-/- cells arises from its ability to suppress STAT4 levels, because if this is prevented by a STAT4-expressing retrovirus, normal Th1 differentiation is observed. Finally, we show that retroviral T-bet expression in developing and established Th2 cells leads to down-regulation of GATA-3 levels. These findings lead to a model of T cell differentiation that holds that naive T cells tend toward Th2 differentiation through induction of GATA-3 and subsequent down-regulation of STAT4/IL-12Rbeta2 chain unless GATA-3 levels or function is regulated by T-bet. Thus, the principal function of T-bet in developing Th1 cells is to negatively regulate GATA-3 rather than to positively regulate the IFNG gene.

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