Epigenetic mechanisms of age-dependent KIR2DL4 expression in T cells

Li G, Weyand CM, Goronzy JJ
Source: J Leukoc Biol
Publication Date: (2008)
Issue: epub: online
Research Area:
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
HuT 78
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
Killer Ig-like receptor (KIR) expression is mostly restricted to NK cells controlling their activation. With increasing age, KIRs are expressed on T cells and contribute to age-related diseases. We examined epigenetic mechanisms that determine the competency of T cells to transcribe KIR2DL4. Compared with Jurkat cells and CD4(+)CD28(+) T cells from young individuals, DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibition was strikingly more effective in T cells from elderly adults and the CD4(+)CD28(-) T cell line HUT78 to induce KIR2DL4 transcription. In these susceptible cells, the KIR2DL4 promoter was partially demethylated, and dimethylated H3-Lys 4 was increased, and all other histone modifications were characteristic for an inactive promoter. In comparison, NK cells had a fully demethylated KIR2DL4 promoter and the full spectrum of histone modifications indicative of active transcription with H3 and H4 acetylation, di- and trimethylated H3-Lys 4, and reduced, dimethylated H3-Lys 9. These results suggest that an increased competency of T cells to express KIR2DL4 with aging is conferred by a selective increase in H3-Lys 4 dimethylation and limited DNA demethylation. The partially accessible promoter is sensitive to DNMT inhibition, which is sufficient to induce full transcription without further histone acetylation and methylation.