Histone Acetylation at the Ifng Promoter in Tolerized Cd4 Cells Is Associated with Increased Ifn- Expression during Subsequent Immunization to the Same Antigen

Long, M.; Slaiby, A.M.; Wu, S.; Hagymasi, A.T.; Mihalyo, M.A.; Bandyopadhyay, S.; Vella, A.T.; Adler, A.J.

The Journal of Immunology 179(9): 5669-5677


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.179.9.5669
Accession: 068490817

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When naive CD4(+) Th cells encounter cognate pathogen-derived Ags they expand and develop the capacity to express the appropriate effector cytokines for neutralizing the pathogen. Central to this differentiation process are epigenetic modifications within the effector cytokine genes that allow accessibility to the transcriptional machinery. In contrast, when mature self-reactive CD4 cells encounter their cognate epitopes in the periphery they generally undergo a process of tolerization in which they become hyporesponsive/anergic to antigenic stimulation. In the current study, we used a TCR transgenic adoptive transfer system to demonstrate that in a dose-dependent manner parenchymal self-Ag programs cognate naive CD4 cells to acetylate histones bound to the promoter region of the Ifng gene (which encodes the signature Th1 effector cytokine) during peripheral tolerization. Although the Ifng gene gains transcriptional competence, these tolerized CD4 cells fail to express substantial amounts of IFN-gamma in response to antigenic stimulation apparently because a blockage in TCR-mediated signaling also develops. Nevertheless, responsiveness to antigenic stimulation is partially restored when self-Ag-tolerized CD4 cells are retransferred into mice infected with a virus expressing the same Ag. Additionally, there is preferential boosting in the ability of these CD4 cells to express IFN-gamma relative to other cytokines with expression that also becomes impaired. Taken together, these results suggest that epigenetic modification of the Ifng locus during peripheral CD4 cell tolerization might allow for preferential expression of IFN-gamma during recovery from tolerance.