Cytotoxic T cell differentiation is guided by epigenome adaptations, but how epigenetic mechanisms control lymphocyte development has not been well defined. Here we show that the histone methyltransferase DOT1L, which marks the nucleosome core on active genes, safeguards normal differentiation of CD8+ T cells. T cell-specific ablation of Dot1L resulted in loss of naïve CD8+ T cells and premature differentiation toward a memory-like state, independent of antigen exposure and in a cell-intrinsic manner. Mechanistically, DOT1L controlled CD8+ T cell differentiation by ensuring normal T cell receptor density and signaling. DOT1L also maintained epigenetic identity, in part by indirectly supporting the repression of developmentally regulated genes. Finally, deletion of Dot1L in T cells resulted in an impaired immune response. Through our study, DOT1L is emerging as a central player in physiology of CD8+ T cells, acting as a barrier to prevent premature differentiation and controlling epigenetic integrity.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 25 Aug 2020|