The basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor BATF is expressed in multiple Th subsets and cooperates with other factors to regulate gene transcription. BATF activates lineage-specific cytokines in Th subsets, activating IL-9 in Th9 cells and IL-17 in Th17 cells, but not IL-9 or IL-17 in the reciprocal subset. The mechanism for this restricted activity is unclear. In this report, we define BATF binding partners that contribute to Th subset–specific functions. Although BATF and IRF4 are expressed in greater amounts in Th9 than Th17, increased expression of both factors is not sufficient to induce IL-9 in Th17 cells. BATF also requires heterodimer formation with Jun family members to bind DNA and induce gene expression. Using primary mouse T cell culture, we observed that JunB and c-Jun, but not JunD, promote IL-9 production in Th9 cells. Ectopic expression of BATF with either JunB or c-Jun generates modest, but significant, increases in IL-9 production in Th17 cells, suggesting that the low expression of Jun family members is one factor limiting the ability of BATF to induce IL-9 in Th17 cells. We further identified that Bach2 positively regulates IL-9 production by directly binding to the Il9 gene and by increasing transcription factor expression in Th9 cells. Strikingly, cotransduction of Bach2 and BATF significantly induces IL-9 production in both Th9 and Th17 cells. Taken together, our results reveal that JunB, c-Jun, and Bach2 cooperate with BATF to contribute to the specificity of BATF-dependent cytokine induction in Th subsets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy