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Immunity. 1998 Dec;9(6):765-75.

Modulation of chromatin structure regulates cytokine gene expression during T cell differentiation.

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Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Center for Blood Research, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Differentiating cells undergo programmed alterations in their patterns of gene expression, which are often regulated by structural changes in chromatin. Here we demonstrate that T cell differentiation results in long-range changes in the chromatin structure of effector cytokine genes, which persist in resting Th1 and Th2 cells in the absence of further stimulation. Differentiation of naive T helper cells into mature Th2 cells is associated with chromatin remodeling of the IL-4 and IL-13 genes, whereas differentiation into Th1 cells evokes remodeling of the IFNgamma but not IL-4 or IL-13 genes. IL-4 locus remodeling is accompanied by demethylation and requires both antigen stimulation and STAT6 activation. We propose that chromatin remodeling of cytokine gene loci is functionally associated with productive T cell differentiation and may explain the coordinate regulation of Th2 cytokine genes.

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