Epigenetics and T-cell immunity

Autoimmunity. 2008 May;41(4):245-52. doi: 10.1080/08916930802024145.


Epigenetic mechanisms including DNA methylation and histone modifications are critically involved in immune responses. Antigen stimulation along with a specific cytokine milieu drives helper T-cell differentiation into specific subsets with distinct functional capacities. This process occurs by inducing chromatin remodeling and altering transcriptional accessibility of key cytokine genes such as IFN-gamma, IL-4 and IL-17. These epigenetic changes, by definition, are carried over throughout cell division to ensure selective survival of a cell lineage. Over the past decade, a growing body of literature mechanistically uncovered the central role for epigenetic regulation in immunity. In this review, we focus on epigenetics in T helper cell differentiation, regulatory T-cell function, and IL-2 production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / immunology
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / immunology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*