T cell receptor-αβ(+) CD3(+)CD4(-)CD8(-) "double-negative" T cells are expanded in the peripheral blood of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome. In both disorders, double-negative T cells infiltrate tissues, induce immunoglobulin production, and secrete proinflammatory cytokines. Double-negative T cells derive from CD8(+) T cells through down-regulation of CD8 surface co-receptors. However, the molecular mechanisms orchestrating this process remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the transcription factor cAMP-responsive element modulator α (CREMα), which is expressed at increased levels in T cells from systemic lupus erythematosus patients, contributes to transcriptional silencing of CD8A and CD8B. We provide the first evidence that CREMα trans-represses a regulatory element 5' of the CD8B gene. Therefore, CREMα represents a promising candidate in the search for biomarkers and treatment options in diseases in which double-negative T cells contribute to the pathogenesis.
Keywords: Autoimmune Diseases; CD8; CREMα; Cell Differentiation; Cellular Immune Response; Double-negative T Cells; Gene Regulation; SLE; T Cell.