CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) maintain immunological self-tolerance and immune homeostasis by suppressing aberrant or excessive immune responses. The core genetic program of Tregs and their ability to suppress pathologic immune responses depends on the transcription factor Foxp3. Despite progress in understanding mechanisms of Foxp3-dependent gene activation, the molecular mechanism of Foxp3-dependent gene repression remains largely unknown. We identified Eos, a zinc-finger transcription factor of the Ikaros family, as a critical mediator of Foxp3-dependent gene silencing in Tregs. Eos interacts directly with Foxp3 and induces chromatin modifications that result in gene silencing in Tregs. Silencing of Eos in Tregs abrogates their ability to suppress immune responses and endows them with partial effector function, thus demonstrating the critical role that Eos plays in Treg programming.
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