Intricate life-versus-death decisions are programmed during T cell development, and the regulatory mechanisms that coordinate their activation and repression are still under investigation. In this study, HDAC3-deficient double-positive (DP) thymocytes exhibit a severe decrease in numbers. The thymic cortex is rich in ATP, which is released by macrophages that clear apoptotic DP thymocytes that fail to undergo positive selection. We demonstrate that HDAC3 is required to repress expression of the purinergic receptor P2X7 to prevent DP cell death. HDAC3-deficient DP thymocytes upregulate the P2X7 receptor, increasing sensitivity to ATP-induced cell death. P2rx7/HDAC3-double knockout mice show a partial rescue in DP cell number. HDAC3 directly binds to the P2rx7 enhancer, which is hyperacetylated in the absence of HDAC3. In addition, RORγt binds to the P2rx7 enhancer and promotes P2X7 receptor expression in the absence of HDAC3. Therefore, HDAC3 is a critical regulator of DP thymocyte survival and is required to suppress P2X7 receptor expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy