T-bet is a Th1-specific transcription factor that is directly involved in three important pathways for Th1 cell differentiation, namely TCR signaling, and the IFN-γ-STAT1 and IL-12-STAT4 pathways. A recent study also showed that T-bet plays a vital role in innate immunity. However, the molecular mechanism responsible for transcriptional activation of T-bet during T cell development is not yet known. Here, we characterize the essential human T-bet promoter elements and show that binding of EGR1 to this promoter induces T-bet transcription. Notably, overexpression of EGR1 transactivates and, synergistically in concert with TCR signaling, induces T-bet expression in activated T cells. In contrast, depletion of EGR1 significantly decreases T-bet induction. Finally, we report a positive correlation between EGR1 and T-bet expression during T helper cell differentiation. Collectively, these findings provide molecular insight into T-bet transcription and suggest that EGR1 is an upstream regulator of T-bet induction.
- T helper cells
- TCR signaling