Transcriptional coregulator Ess2 controls survival of post-thymic CD4+ T cells through the Myc and IL-7 signaling pathways

J Biol Chem. 2022 Sep;298(9):102342. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.102342. Epub 2022 Aug 3.


Ess2, also known as Dgcr14, is a transcriptional co-regulator of CD4+ T cells. Ess2 is located in a chromosomal region, the loss of which has been associated with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), which causes heart defects, skeletal abnormalities, and immunodeficiency. However, the specific association of Ess2 with 22q11DS remains unclear. To elucidate the role of Ess2 in T-cell development, we generated Ess2 floxed (Ess2fl/fl) and CD4+ T cell-specific Ess2 KO (Ess2ΔCD4/ΔCD4) mice using the Cre/loxP system. Interestingly, Ess2ΔCD4/ΔCD4 mice exhibited reduced naïve T-cell numbers in the spleen, while the number of thymocytes (CD4-CD8-, CD4+CD8+, CD4+CD8-, and CD4-CD8+) in the thymus remained unchanged. Furthermore, Ess2ΔCD4/ΔCD4 mice had decreased NKT cells and increased γδT cells in the thymus and spleen. A genome-wide expression analysis using RNA-seq revealed that Ess2 deletion alters the expression of many genes in CD4 single-positive thymocytes, including genes related to the immune system and Myc target genes. In addition, Ess2 enhanced the transcriptional activity of c-Myc. Some genes identified as Ess2 targets in mice show expressional correlation with ESS2 in human immune cells. Moreover, Ess2ΔCD4/ΔCD4 naïve CD4+ T cells did not maintain survival in response to IL-7. Our results suggest that Ess2 plays a critical role in post-thymic T-cell survival through the Myc and IL-7 signaling pathways.

Keywords: CD4+; Myc; T-cell transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes* / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Survival
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-7* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / immunology
  • Nuclear Proteins* / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • ESS2 protein, human
  • Interleukin-7
  • Myc protein, mouse
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc