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Immunity. 2011 Sep 23;35(3):337-48. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.08.012. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

An essential role of the transcription factor GATA-3 for the function of regulatory T cells.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Forkhead Box P3 (Foxp3)-expressing regulatory T (Treg) cells are central to maintaining self-tolerance and immune homeostasis. How Treg cell function and Foxp3 expression are regulated is an important question under intensive investigation. Here, we have demonstrated an essential role for the transcription factor GATA-3, a previously recognized Th2 cell master regulator, in controlling Treg cell function. Treg cell-specific GATA-3 deletion led to a spontaneous inflammatory disorder in mice. GATA-3-null Treg cells were defective in peripheral homeostasis and suppressive function, gained Th17 cell phenotypes, and expressed reduced amounts of Foxp3. In addition, GATA-3 controlled Foxp3 expression by binding to and promoting the activity of cis-acting elements of Foxp3. Furthermore, the combined function of GATA-3 and Foxp3 was essential for Foxp3 expression. These findings provide insights into immune regulatory mechanisms and uncover a critical function of GATA-3 in Treg cells and immune tolerance.

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