CD4+ T cells play key roles in orchestrating adaptive immune responses, and are a popular model for mammalian cell differentiation. While immune regulation would seem to require exactly adjusted mRNA and protein expression levels of key factors, there is little evidence that this is strictly the case. Stochastic gene expression and plasticity of cell types contrast the apparent need for precision. Recent work has provided insight into the magnitude of molecular noise, as well as the relationship between noise, transcriptional circuits and epigenetic modifications in a variety of cell types. These processes and their interplay will also govern gene expression patterns in the different CD4+ cell types, and the determination of their cellular fates.
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