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J Clin Invest. 2016 Mar 1;126(3):865-78. doi: 10.1172/JCI83894. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Lineage-affiliated transcription factors bind the Gata3 Tce1 enhancer to mediate lineage-specific programs.


The transcription factor GATA3 is essential for the genesis and maturation of the T cell lineage, and GATA3 dysregulation has pathological consequences. Previous studies have shown that GATA3 function in T cell development is regulated by multiple signaling pathways and that the Notch nuclear effector, RBP-J, binds specifically to the Gata3 promoter. We previously identified a T cell-specific Gata3 enhancer (Tce1) lying 280 kb downstream from the structural gene and demonstrated in transgenic mice that Tce1 promoted T lymphocyte-specific transcription of reporter genes throughout T cell development; however, it was not clear if Tce1 is required for Gata3 transcription in vivo. Here, we determined that the canonical Gata3 promoter is insufficient for Gata3 transcriptional activation in T cells in vivo, precluding the possibility that promoter binding by a host of previously implicated transcription factors alone is responsible for Gata3 expression in T cells. Instead, we demonstrated that multiple lineage-affiliated transcription factors bind to Tce1 and that this enhancer confers T lymphocyte-specific Gata3 activation in vivo, as targeted deletion of Tce1 in a mouse model abrogated critical functions of this T cell-regulatory element. Together, our data show that Tce1 is both necessary and sufficient for critical aspects of Gata3 T cell-specific transcriptional activity.

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