Establishment, maintenance, and recall of inflammatory memory

Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Oct 7;28(10):1758-1774.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2021.07.001. Epub 2021 Jul 27.


Known for nearly a century but through mechanisms that remain elusive, cells retain a memory of inflammation that equips them to react quickly and broadly to diverse secondary stimuli. Using murine epidermal stem cells as a model, we elucidate how cells establish, maintain, and recall inflammatory memory. Specifically, we landscape and functionally interrogate temporal, dynamic changes to chromatin accessibility, histone modifications, and transcription factor binding that occur during inflammation, post-resolution, and in memory recall following injury. We unearth an essential, unifying role for the general stress-responsive transcription factor FOS, which partners with JUN and cooperates with stimulus-specific STAT3 to establish memory; JUN then remains with other homeostatic factors on memory domains, facilitating rapid FOS re-recruitment and gene re-activation upon diverse secondary challenges. Extending our findings, we offer a comprehensive, potentially universal mechanism behind inflammatory memory and less discriminate recall phenomena with profound implications for tissue fitness in health and disease.

Keywords: AP1 transcription factors; ATAC sequencing; CUT&RUN; ChIP sequencing; FOS; FOS:JUN; STAT3; broadened immune protection; epigenetic memory; histone modifications; inflammation; inflammatory disorders; inflammatory memory; tissue stem cells; trained immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mice
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Chromatin
  • Transcription Factors