The gene encoding early growth response 2, a target of the transcription factor NFAT, is required for the development and maturation of natural killer T cells

Nat Immunol. 2009 Mar;10(3):306-13. doi: 10.1038/ni.1696. Epub 2009 Jan 25.


The influence of signals transmitted by the phosphatase calcineurin and the transcription factor NFAT on the development and function of natural killer T (NKT) cells is unclear. In this report, we demonstrate that the transcription factor early growth response 2 (Egr2), a target gene of NFAT, was specifically required for the ontogeny of NKT cells but not that of conventional CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cells. NKT cells developed normally in the absence of Egr1 or Egr3, which suggests that Egr2 is a specific regulator of NKT cell differentiation. We found that Egr2 was important in the selection, survival and maturation of NKT cells. Our findings emphasize the importance of the calcineurin-NFAT-Egr2 pathway in the development of the NKT lymphocyte lineage.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Calcineurin / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Early Growth Response Protein 2 / genetics
  • Early Growth Response Protein 2 / immunology
  • Early Growth Response Protein 2 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / genetics
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / immunology
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / immunology*


  • Early Growth Response Protein 2
  • Egr2 protein, mouse
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • Calcineurin