ZEBs: Novel Players in Immune Cell Development and Function

Trends Immunol. 2019 May;40(5):431-446. doi: 10.1016/j.it.2019.03.001. Epub 2019 Apr 5.


ZEB1 and ZEB2 are zinc-finger E homeobox-binding transcription factors best known for their role in driving epithelial to mesenchymal transition. However, in recent years our understanding of these two transcription factors has broadened, and it is now clear that they are expressed by a variety of immune cells of both myeloid and lymphoid lineages, including dendritic cells, macrophages, monocytes, B, T, and NK cells. In these cells, ZEBs function to regulate important transcriptional networks necessary for cell differentiation, maintenance, and function. Here, we review the current understanding of ZEB regulation across immune cell lineages, particularly in mice, highlighting present gaps in our knowledge. We also speculate on important questions for the future.

Keywords: Development; Function; Lymphoid; Myeloid; ZEB1; ZEB2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / immunology
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Zinc Finger E-box Binding Homeobox 2 / immunology*
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1 / immunology*


  • ZEB1 protein, human
  • ZEB2 protein, human
  • Zinc Finger E-box Binding Homeobox 2
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1