The transcription factor Zbtb7b promotes CD4 expression by antagonizing Runx-mediated activation of the CD4 silencer.

Kathryn F Wildt, Guangping Sun, Baerbel Grueter, Maria Fischer, Monica Zamisch, Marc Ehlers, Rémy Bosselut


The persistence of CD4 expression is a key event distinguishing the differentiation of MHC class II-restricted thymocytes into CD4 T cells from that of MHC class I-restricted thymocytes into CD8 T cells. The zinc finger transcription factor Zbtb7b (or cKrox or Thpok) is normally expressed in MHC class II-restricted thymocytes and promotes CD4 lineage choice. When expressed in MHC class I-restricted cells, Zbtb7b redirects these cells from their normal CD8 fate to CD4 differentiation, implying that it promotes, directly or not, sustained CD4 expression; the present study has investigated the mechanism of this effect. We demonstrate that, although Zbtb7b does not enhance CD4 expression on its own, it antagonizes the CD4 repression mediated by the transcription factor Runx3, which is normally up-regulated during CD8 differentiation and promotes CD4 silencing. Zbtb7b also antagonizes CD4 repression by the related protein Runx1, which is expressed in CD4 lineage cells. This antagonism is observed both in vitro and in vivo, is transcriptional, and requires domains of Zbtb7b that are essential to its ability to promote CD4 differentiation in vivo. Furthermore, Zbtb7b fails to antagonize Runx in cells treated with histone deacetylase inhibitors, suggesting that Zbtb7b acts by reducing the expression of thus far unknown factors that cooperate with Runx molecules to repress CD4. These findings demonstrate that the transcription factor Zbtb7b promotes CD4 expression by antagonizing Runx-mediated CD4 repression.
Original languageGerman
Title of host publicationJournal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)
Number of pages10
Publication date2007
ISBN (Print)0022-1767 (Print)\n0022-1767 (Linking)
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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