The role of the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Dec1 in the regulatory T cells

J Immunol. 2010 Dec 15;185(12):7330-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001381. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


Naturally occurring regulatory T (Treg) cells play a central role in the maintenance of immune homeostasis and in restraining the development of spontaneous inflammatory responses. However, the underlying mechanisms of Treg homeostasis remain incompletely understood. Of particular note, the IL-2Rα (CD25) is crucial for the homeostasis of Treg cells and the prevention of lymphoproliferative autoimmune disease. In this paper, we report that the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Dec1 is involved in the homeostasis of Treg cells and plays a role in their survival or expansion after adoptive transfer to lymphopenic recipients. Hence, it is crucial for the suppression of effector T cell-mediated inflammatory responses. Enforced expression of Dec1 upregulates CD25 expression during thymocyte development and increases the number of Treg cells in the periphery. Dec1 binds the transcription factor Runx1 and colocalizes with Runx1 in Treg cells. Specifically, we demonstrate that in Treg cells the Dec1/Runx1 complex binds to regulatory elements present in the Il-2rα locus. Collectively, these data show how Dec1 mechanistically acts in Treg cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / immunology*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / genetics
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / immunology
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / immunology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein Binding / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory
  • Up-Regulation / physiology*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Bhlhe40 protein, mouse
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Il2ra protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Runx1 protein, mouse