Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19923468
J. Immunol. 2009 Dec;183(12):7743-51
T-bet is a key regulator controlling Th1 cell development. This factor is not expressed in naive CD4(+) T cells, and the mechanisms controlling expression of T-bet are incompletely understood. In this study, we defined regulatory elements at the human T-bet locus and determined how signals originating at the TCR and at cytokine receptors are integrated to induce chromatin modifications and expression of this gene during human Th1 cell differentiation. We found that T cell activation induced two strong DNase I-hypersensitive sites (HS) and rapid histone acetylation at these elements in CD4(+) T cells. Histone acetylation and T-bet expression were strongly inhibited by cyclosporine A, and we detected binding of NF-AT to a HS in vivo. IL-12 and IFN-gamma signaling alone were not sufficient to induce T-bet expression in naive CD4(+) T cells, but enhanced T-bet expression in TCR/CD28-stimulated cells. We detected a third HS 12 kb upstream of the mRNA start site only in developing Th1 cells, which was bound by IL-12-induced STAT4. Our data suggest that T-bet locus remodeling and gene expression are initiated by TCR-induced NF-AT recruitment and amplified by IL-12-mediated STAT4 binding to distinct distal regulatory elements during human Th1 cell differentiation.