Egr3 induces a Th17 response by promoting the development of γδ T cells

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The transcription factor Early Growth Response 3 (Egr3) has been shown to play an important role in negatively regulating T cell activation and promoting T cell anergy in Th1 cells. However, its role in regulating other T helper subsets has yet to be described. We sought to determine the role of Egr3 in a Th17 response using transgenic mice that overexpress Egr3 in T cells (Egr3 TG). Splenocytes from Egr3 TG mice demonstrated more robust generation of Th17 cells even under non-Th17 skewing conditions. We found that while Egr3 TG T cells were not intrinsically more likely to become Th17 cells, the environment encountered by these cells was more conducive to Th17 development. Further analysis revealed a considerable increase in the number of γδ T cells in both the peripheral lymphoid organs and mucosal tissues of Egr3 TG mice, a cell type which normally accounts for only a small fraction of peripheral lymphocytes. Consistent with this marked increase in peripheral γδ T cells, thymocytes from Egr3 TG mice also appear biased toward γδ T cell development. Coculture of these Egr3-induced γδ T cells with wildtype CD4+ T cells increases Th17 differentiation, and Egr3 TG mice are more susceptible to bleomycin-induced lung inflammation. Overall our findings strengthen the role for Egr3 in promoting γδ T cell development and show that Egr3-induced γδ T cells are both functional and capable of altering the adaptive immune response in a Th17-biased manner. Our data also demonstrates that the role played by Egr3 in T cell activation and differentiation is more complex than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere87265
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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