Innate T cells, including invariant natural killer T (iNKT) and mucosal-associated innate T (MAIT) cells, are a heterogeneous T lymphocyte population with effector properties preprogrammed during their thymic differentiation. How this program is initiated is currently unclear. Here, we show that the transcription factor BCL-6 was transiently expressed in iNKT cells upon exit from positive selection and was required for their proper development beyond stage 0. Notably, development of MAIT cells was also impaired in the absence of Bcl6. BCL-6-deficient iNKT cells had reduced expression of genes that were associated with the innate T cell lineage, including Zbtb16, which encodes PLZF, and PLZF-targeted genes. BCL-6 contributed to a chromatin accessibility landscape that was permissive for the expression of development-related genes and inhibitory for genes associated with naive T cell programs. Our results revealed new functions for BCL-6 and illuminated how this transcription factor controls early iNKT cell development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy