The molecular basis of signal-dependent transcriptional activation has been extensively studied in macrophage polarization, but our understanding remains limited regarding the molecular determinants of repression. Here we show that IL-4-activated STAT6 transcription factor is required for the direct transcriptional repression of a large number of genes during in vitro and in vivo alternative macrophage polarization. Repression results in decreased lineage-determining transcription factor, p300, and RNA polymerase II binding followed by reduced enhancer RNA expression, H3K27 acetylation, and chromatin accessibility. The repressor function of STAT6 is HDAC3 dependent on a subset of IL-4-repressed genes. In addition, STAT6-repressed enhancers show extensive overlap with the NF-κB p65 cistrome and exhibit decreased responsiveness to lipopolysaccharide after IL-4 stimulus on a subset of genes. As a consequence, macrophages exhibit diminished inflammasome activation, decreased IL-1β production, and pyroptosis. Thus, the IL-4-STAT6 signaling pathway establishes an alternative polarization-specific epigenenomic signature resulting in dampened macrophage responsiveness to inflammatory stimuli.
Keywords: IL-1β; IL-4; STAT6; alternative macrophage polarization; inflammasome activation; inflammation; macrophage epigenomics; pyroptosis; repression; transcription.
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