Requirement for the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Dec2 in initial TH2 lineage commitment.
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How naive CD4(+) T cells commit to the T helper type 2 (T(H)2) lineage is poorly understood. Here we show that the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Dec2 was selectively expressed in T(H)2 cells. CD4(+) T cells from Dec2-deficient mice showed defective T(H)2 differentiation in vitro and in vivo in an asthma model and in response to challenge with a parasite antigen. Dec2 promoted expression of interleukin 4 (IL-4), IL-5 and IL-13 during early T(H)2 differentiation and directly bound to and activated transcription of genes encoding the transcription factors JunB and GATA-3. As GATA-3 induces Dec2 expression, our findings also indicate a feed-forward regulatory circuit during T(H)2 differentiation.