An essential role of the transcription factor GATA-3 for the function of regulatory T cells

Immunity. 2011 Sep 23;35(3):337-48. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.08.012. Epub 2011 Sep 15.


Forkhead Box P3 (Foxp3)-expressing regulatory T (Treg) cells are central to maintaining self-tolerance and immune homeostasis. How Treg cell function and Foxp3 expression are regulated is an important question under intensive investigation. Here, we have demonstrated an essential role for the transcription factor GATA-3, a previously recognized Th2 cell master regulator, in controlling Treg cell function. Treg cell-specific GATA-3 deletion led to a spontaneous inflammatory disorder in mice. GATA-3-null Treg cells were defective in peripheral homeostasis and suppressive function, gained Th17 cell phenotypes, and expressed reduced amounts of Foxp3. In addition, GATA-3 controlled Foxp3 expression by binding to and promoting the activity of cis-acting elements of Foxp3. Furthermore, the combined function of GATA-3 and Foxp3 was essential for Foxp3 expression. These findings provide insights into immune regulatory mechanisms and uncover a critical function of GATA-3 in Treg cells and immune tolerance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Protein Binding
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • GATA3 Transcription Factor