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J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 14;286(41):35456-65. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.236794. Epub 2011 Aug 23.

Histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methyltransferase recruitment to the interleukin-2 (IL-2) promoter is a mechanism of suppression of IL-2 transcription by the transforming growth factor-β-Smad pathway.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


Suppression of IL-2 βproduction from T cells is an important process for the immune regulation by TGF-β. However, the mechanism by which this suppression occurs remains to be established. Here, we demonstrate that Smad2 and Smad3, two major TGF-β-downstream transcription factors, are redundantly essential for TGF-β-mediated suppression of IL-2 production in CD4(+) T cells using Smad2- and Smad3-deficient T cells. Both Smad2 and Smad3 were recruited into the proximal region of the IL-2 promoter in response to TGF-β. We then investigated the histone methylation status of the IL-2 promoter. Although both histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) and H3K27 trimethylation have been implicated in gene silencing, only H3K9 trimethylation was increased in the proximal region of the IL-2 promoter in a Smad2/3-dependent manner, whereas H3K27 trimethylation was not. The H3K9 methyltransferases Setdb1 and Suv39h1 bound to Smad3 and suppressed IL-2 promoter activity in collaboration with Smad3. Overexpression of Suv39h1 in 68-41 T cells strongly inhibited IL-2 production in response to T cell receptor stimulation irrespective of the presence or absence of TGF-β, whereas Setdb1 overexpression only slightly suppressed IL-2 production. Silencing of Suv39h1 by shRNA reverted the suppressive effect of TGF-β on IL-2 production. Furthermore, TGF-β induced Suv39h1 recruitment to the proximal region of the IL-2 promoter in wild type primary T cells; however, this was not observed in Smad2(-/-)Smad3(+/-) T cells. Thus, we propose that Smads recruit H3K9 methyltransferases Suv39h1 to the IL-2 promoter, thereby inducing suppressive histone methylation and inhibiting T cell receptor-mediated IL-2 transcription.

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