Inaccessible LCG Promoters Act as Safeguards to Restrict T Cell Development to Appropriate Notch Signaling Environments

Stem Cell Reports. 2021 Apr 13;16(4):717-726. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2021.02.017. Epub 2021 Mar 25.


T cell development is restricted to the thymus and is dependent on high levels of Notch signaling induced within the thymic microenvironment. To understand Notch function in thymic restriction, we investigated the basis for target gene selectivity in response to quantitative differences in Notch signal strength, focusing on the chromatin architecture of genes essential for T cell differentiation. We find that high Notch signal strength is required to activate promoters of known targets essential for T cell commitment, including Il2ra, Cd3ε, and Rag1, which feature low CpG content (LCG) and DNA inaccessibility in hematopoietic stem progenitor cells. Our findings suggest that promoter DNA inaccessibility at LCG T lineage genes provides robust protection against stochastic activation in inappropriate Notch signaling contexts, limiting T cell development to the thymus.

Keywords: DNA accessibility; LCG promoters; Notch; T cell development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CpG Islands / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Notch
  • DNA
  • Deoxyribonuclease I