Gfi1, a transcriptional repressor, inhibits the induction of the T helper type 1 programme in activated CD4 T cells

Immunology. 2016 Apr;147(4):476-87. doi: 10.1111/imm.12580. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


A transcriptional repressor Gfi1 promotes T helper type 2 (Th2) cell development and inhibits Th17 and inducible regulatory T-cell differentiation. However, the role of Gfi1 in regulating Th1 cell differentiation and the Th1-type immune response remains to be investigated. We herein demonstrate that Gfi1 inhibits the induction of the Th1 programme in activated CD4 T cells. The activated Gfi1-deficient CD4 T cells spontaneously develop into Th1 cells in an interleukin-12- and interferon-γ-independent manner. The increase of Th1-type immune responses was confirmed in vivo in Gfi1-deficient mice using a murine model of nickel allergy and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH). The expression levels of Th1-related transcription factors were found to increase in Gfi1-deficient activated CD4 T cells. Tbx21, Eomes and Runx2 were identified as possible direct targets of Gfi1. Gfi1 binds to the Tbx21, Eomes and Runx2 gene loci and reduces the histone H3K4 methylation levels in part by modulating Lsd1 recruitment. Together, these findings demonstrate a novel regulatory role of Gfi1 in the regulation of the Th1-type immune response.

Keywords: T helper type 1 differentiation; T helper type 1 immune response; epigenetics; histone H3K4 methylation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / deficiency
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Histone Demethylases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Protein Binding
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • Th1 Cells / cytology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit
  • Cytokines
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Eomes protein, mouse
  • Gfi1 protein, mouse
  • Histones
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • T-box transcription factor TBX21
  • Transcription Factors
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Histone Demethylases
  • KDM1a protein, mouse