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Immunity. 2008 Dec 19;29(6):876-87. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.09.019. Epub 2008 Dec 8.

The zinc finger transcription factor Zbtb7b represses CD8-lineage gene expression in peripheral CD4+ T cells.

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Laboratory of Immune Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research (CCR), NCI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


How CD4-CD8 differentiation is maintained in mature T cells is largely unknown. The present study has examined the role in this process of the zinc finger protein Zbtb7b, a critical factor for the commitment of MHC II-restricted thymocytes to the CD4+ lineage. We showed that Zbtb7b acted in peripheral CD4+ T cells to suppress CD8-lineage gene expression, including that of CD8 and cytotoxic effector genes perforin and Granzyme B, and was important for the proper repression of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) during effector differentiation. The inappropriate expression of IFN-gamma by Zbtb7b-deficient CD4+ T cells required the activities of Eomesodermin and Runx transcription factors. Runx activity was needed for Granzyme B expression, indicating that Runx proteins control expression of the cytotoxic program. We conclude that a key function of Zbtb7b in the mature CD4+ T cell compartment is to repress CD8-lineage gene expression.

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