The STAT transcription factor STAT4 is a critical regulator of Th1 differentiation and inflammatory disease. Yet, how STAT4 regulates gene expression is still unclear. In this report, we define a STAT4-dependent sequence of events including histone H3 lysine 4 methylation, Jmjd3 association with STAT4 target loci, and a Jmjd3-dependent decrease in histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation and DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt) 3a association with STAT4 target loci. Dnmt3a has an obligate role in repressing Th1 gene expression, and in Th1 cultures deficient in both STAT4 and Dnmt3a, there is recovery in the expression of a subset of Th1 genes that is sufficient to increase IFN-γ production. Moreover, although STAT4-deficient mice are protected from the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, mice deficient in STAT4 and conditionally deficient in Dnmt3a in T cells develop paralysis. Th1 genes that are derepressed in the absence of Dnmt3a have greater induction after the ectopic expression of the Th1-associated transcription factors T-bet and Hlx1. Together, these data demonstrate that STAT4 and Dnmt3a play opposing roles in regulating Th1 gene expression, and that one mechanism for STAT4-dependent gene programming is in establishing a derepressed genetic state susceptible to transactivation by additional fate-determining transcription factors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy