The human TNF/LT locus genes TNF, LTA, and LTB are expressed in a cell type-specific manner. In this study, we show that a highly conserved NFAT binding site within the distal noncoding element hHS-8 coordinately controls TNF and LTA gene expression in human T cells. Upon activation of primary human CD4+ T cells, hHS-8 and the TNF and LTA promoters display increased H3K27 acetylation and nuclease sensitivity and coordinate induction of TNF, LTA, and hHS-8 enhancer RNA transcription occurs. Functional analyses using CRISPR/dead(d)Cas9 targeting of the hHS-8-NFAT site in the human T cell line CEM demonstrate significant reduction of TNF and LTA mRNA synthesis and of RNA polymerase II recruitment to their promoters. These studies elucidate how a distal element regulates the inducible cell type-specific gene expression program of the human TNF/LT locus and provide an approach for modulation of TNF and LTA transcription in human disease using CRISPR/dCas9.
Copyright © 2020 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.