The Ets transcription factor PU.1 is a master regulator for the development of multiple lineages during hematopoiesis. The expression pattern of PU.1 is dynamically regulated during early T lineage development in the thymus. We previously revealed that PU.1 delineates heterogeneity of effector Th2 populations. In this study, we further define the function of PU.1 on the Th2 phenotype using mice that specifically lack PU.1 in T cells using an lck-Cre transgene with a conditional Sfpi1 allele (Sfpi1lck-/-). Although deletion of PU.1 by the lck-Cre transgene does not affect T cell development, Sfpi1lck-/- T cells have a lower activation threshold than wild-type T cells. When TCR engagement is limiting, Sfpi1lck-/- T cells cultured in Th2 polarizing conditions secrete higher levels of Th2 cytokines and have greater cytokine homogeneity than wild-type cells. We show that PU.1 modulates the levels of TCR expression in CD4+ T cells by regulating the DNA-binding activity of GATA-3 and limiting GATA-3 regulation of TCR gene expression. GATA-3-dependent regulation of TCR expression is also observed in Th1 and Th2 cells. In CD4+ T cells, PU.1 expression segregates into subpopulations of cells that have lower levels of surface TCR, suggesting that PU.1 contributes to the heterogeneity of TCR expression. Thus, we have identified a mechanism whereby increased GATA-3 function in the absence of the antagonizing activity of PU.1 leads to increased TCR expression, a reduced activation threshold, and increased homogeneity in Th2 populations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy