The two major lineages of classical dendritic cells (cDCs) express and require either IRF8 or IRF4 transcription factors for their development and function. IRF8-dependent cDCs promote anti-viral and T-helper 1 (Th1) cell responses, whereas IRF4-expressing cDCs have been implicated in controlling both Th2 and Th17 cell responses. Here, we have provided evidence that Kruppel-like factor 4 (Klf4) is required in IRF4-expressing cDCs to promote Th2, but not Th17, cell responses in vivo. Conditional Klf4 deletion within cDCs impaired Th2 cell responses during Schistosoma mansoni infection, Schistosoma egg antigen (SEA) immunization, and house dust mite (HDM) challenge without affecting cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL), Th1 cell, or Th17 cell responses to herpes simplex virus, Toxoplasma gondii, and Citrobacter rodentium infections. Further, Klf4 deletion reduced IRF4 expression in pre-cDCs and resulted in selective loss of IRF4-expressing cDCs subsets in several tissues. These results indicate that Klf4 guides a transcriptional program promoting IRF4-expressing cDCs heterogeneity.
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