The Histone Acetyltransferase Gcn5 Positively Regulates T Cell Activation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) regulate inducible transcription in multiple cellular processes and during inflammatory and immune response. However, the functions of general control nonrepressed-protein 5 (Gcn5), an evolutionarily conserved HAT from yeast to human, in immune regulation remain unappreciated. In this study, we conditionally deleted Gcn5 (encoded by the Kat2a gene) specifically in T lymphocytes by crossing floxed Gcn5 and Lck-Cre mice, and demonstrated that Gcn5 plays important roles in multiple stages of T cell functions including development, clonal expansion, and differentiation. Loss of Gcn5 functions impaired T cell proliferation, IL-2 production, and Th1/Th17, but not Th2 and regulatory T cell differentiation. Gcn5 is recruited onto the il-2 promoter by interacting with the NFAT in T cells upon TCR stimulation. Interestingly, instead of directly acetylating NFAT, Gcn5 catalyzes histone H3 lysine H9 acetylation to promote IL-2 production. T cell-specific suppression of Gcn5 partially protected mice from myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an experimental model for human multiple sclerosis. Our study reveals previously unknown physiological functions for Gcn5 and a molecular mechanism underlying these functions in regulating T cell immunity. Hence Gcn5 may be an important new target for autoimmune disease therapy.

published proceedings

  • J Immunol

altmetric score

  • 4.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Gao, B., Kong, Q., Zhang, Y., Yun, C., Dent, S., Song, J., ... Fang, D.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Gao, Beixue||Kong, Qingfei||Zhang, Yana||Yun, Chawon||Dent, Sharon YR||Song, Jianxun||Zhang, Donna D||Wang, Yiming||Li, Xuemei||Fang, Deyu

publication date

  • May 2017