Transcriptional Basis of Mouse and Human Dendritic Cell Heterogeneity

Cell. 2019 Oct 31;179(4):846-863.e24. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.09.035. Epub 2019 Oct 24.


Dendritic cells (DCs) play a critical role in orchestrating adaptive immune responses due to their unique ability to initiate T cell responses and direct their differentiation into effector lineages. Classical DCs have been divided into two subsets, cDC1 and cDC2, based on phenotypic markers and their distinct abilities to prime CD8 and CD4 T cells. While the transcriptional regulation of the cDC1 subset has been well characterized, cDC2 development and function remain poorly understood. By combining transcriptional and chromatin analyses with genetic reporter expression, we identified two principal cDC2 lineages defined by distinct developmental pathways and transcriptional regulators, including T-bet and RORγt, two key transcription factors known to define innate and adaptive lymphocyte subsets. These novel cDC2 lineages were characterized by distinct metabolic and functional programs. Extending our findings to humans revealed conserved DC heterogeneity and the presence of the newly defined cDC2 subsets in human cancer.

Keywords: ATAC-sequencing; T-bet; dendritic cells; myeloid cells; single-cell RNA-sequencing; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Lineage / genetics*
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic / immunology


  • Chromatin