The transcription factors Bcl6 and Blimp1 have opposing roles in the development of the follicular helper T (TFH) cells: Bcl6 promotes and Blimp1 inhibits TFH-cell differentiation. Similarly, Bcl6 activates, while Blimp1 represses, expression of the TFH-cell marker PD-1. However, Bcl6 and Blimp1 repress each other's expression, complicating the interpretation of the regulatory network. Here we sought to clarify the extent to which Bcl6 and Blimp1 independently control TFH-cell differentiation by generating mice with T-cell specific deletion of both Bcl6 and Blimp1 (double conditional KO [dcKO] mice). Our data indicate that Blimp1 does not control TFH-cell differentiation independently of Bcl6. However, a population of T follicular regulatory (TFR) cells developed independently of Bcl6 in dcKO mice. We have also analyzed regulation of IL-10 and PD-1, two genes controlled by both Bcl6 and Blimp1, and observed that Bcl6 regulates both genes independently of Blimp1. We found that Bcl6 positively regulates PD-1 expression by inhibiting the ability of T-bet/Tbx21 to repress Pdcd1 transcription. Our data provide a novel mechanism for positive control of gene expression by Bcl6, and illuminate how Bcl6 and Blimp1 control TFH-cell differentiation.
- Follicular helper T cells
- Germinal center
- T follicular regulatory cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy