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Eur J Immunol. 2012 Sep;42(9):2471-83. doi: 10.1002/eji.201142307. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Silencing of the Il2 gene transcription is regulated by epigenetic changes in anergic T cells.

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Department of Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Anergy is induced in T cells as a consequence of a partial or suboptimal stimulation. Anergic T cells become unresponsive and fail to proliferate and produce cytokines. We had previously shown that in anergic CD4(+) T cells, Ikaros participates in the transcriptional repression of the Il2 gene by recruiting histone deacetylases that cause core histone deacetylation at the Il2 promoter. Here we show that deacetylation at the Il2 promoter is the initial step in a process that leads to the stable silencing of the Il2 gene transcription in anergic T cells. We have found that anergy-induced deacetylation of the Il2 promoter permits binding of the histone methyl-transferase Suv39H1, which trimethylates lysine-9 of histone H3 (Me3H3-K9). Furthermore, the establishment of the Me3H3-K9 mark allows the recruitment of the heterochromatin protein HP1, allowing the silenced Il2 loci to reposition close to heterochromatin-rich regions. Our results indicate that silencing of Il2 transcription in anergic T cells is attained through a series of epigenetic changes that involve the establishment of repressive marks and the subsequent nuclear repositioning of the Il2 loci, which become juxtaposed to transcriptionally silent regions. This mechanism may account for the stable nature of the inhibition of IL-2 production in anergic cells.

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