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KAP1 regulates gene networks controlling T-cell development and responsiveness.
Chromatin remodeling at specific genomic loci controls lymphoid differentiation. Here, we investigated the role played in this process by Kruppel-associated box (KRAB)-associated protein 1 (KAP1), the universal cofactor of KRAB-zinc finger proteins (ZFPs), a tetrapod-restricted family of transcriptional repressors. T-cell-specific Kap1-deleted mice displayed a significant expansion of immature thymocytes, imbalances in CD4(+)/CD8(+) cell ratios, and altered responses to TCR and TGFβ stimulation when compared to littermate KAP1 control mice. Transcriptome and chromatin studies revealed that KAP1 binds T-cell-specific cis-acting regulatory elements marked by the H3K9me3 repressive mark and enriched in Ikaros/NuRD complexes. Also, KAP1 directly controls the expression of several genes involved in TCR and cytokine signaling. Among these, regulation of FoxO1 seems to play a major role in this system. Likely responsible for tethering KAP1 to at least part of its genomic targets, a small number of KRAB-ZFPs are selectively expressed in T-lymphoid cells. These results reveal the so far unsuspected yet important role of KAP1-mediated epigenetic regulation in T-lymphocyte differentiation and activation.
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