Tox induces T cell IL-10 production in a BATF-dependent manner

Front Immunol. 2023 Nov 20:14:1275423. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1275423. eCollection 2023.


Tox is a member of the high mobility group (HMG)-Box transcription factors and plays important roles in thymic T cell development. Outside of the thymus, however, Tox is also highly expressed by CD8 and CD4 T cells in various states of activation and in settings of cancer and autoimmune disease. In CD4 T cells, Tox has been primarily studied in T follicular helper (TFH) cells where it, along with Tox2, promotes TFH differentiation by regulating key TFH-associated genes and suppressing CD4 cytotoxic T cell differentiation. However, the role of Tox in other T helper (Th) cell subtypes is less clear. Here, we show that Tox is expressed in several physiologically-activated Th subtypes and its ectopic expression enhances the in vitro differentiation of Th2 and T regulatory (Treg) cells. Tox overexpression in unpolarized Th cells also induced the expression of several genes involved in cell activation (Pdcd1), cellular trafficking (Ccl3, Ccl4, Xcl1) and suppressing inflammation (Il10) across multiple Th subtypes. We found that Tox binds the regulatory regions of these genes along with the transcription factors BATF, IRF4, and JunB and that Tox-induced expression of IL-10, but not PD-1, is BATF-dependent. Based on these data, we propose a model where Tox regulates Th cell chemotactic genes involved in facilitating dendritic cell-T cell interactions and aids in the resolution or prevention of inflammation through the production of IL-10.

Keywords: BATF/JUN/IRF4 complex; IL-10; T cell differentiation; TOX; transcription factors (TF) S.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors* / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interleukin-10* / genetics
  • Interleukin-10* / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Interleukin-10
  • BATF protein, human