Hox5 Paralogous Genes Modulate Th2 Cell Function during Chronic Allergic Inflammation via Regulation of Gata3 [IMMUNE REGULATION]

Allergic asthma is a significant health burden in western countries, and continues to increase in prevalence. Th2 cells contribute to the development of disease through release of the cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, resulting in increased airway eosinophils and mucus hypersecretion. The molecular mechanisms behind the disease pathology remain largely unknown. In this study we investigated a potential regulatory role for the Hox5 gene family, Hoxa5, Hoxb5, and Hoxc5, genes known to be important in lung development within mesenchymal cell populations. We found that Hox5-mutant mice show exacerbated pathology compared with wild-type controls in a chronic allergen model, with an increased Th2 response and exacerbated lung tissue pathology. Bone marrow chimera experiments indicated that the observed enhanced pathology was mediated by immune cell function independent of mesenchymal cell Hox5 family function. Examination of T cells grown in Th2 polarizing conditions showed increased proliferation, enhanced Gata3 expression, and elevated production of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 in Hox5-deficient T cells compared with wild-type controls. Overexpression of FLAG-tagged HOX5 proteins in Jurkat cells demonstrated HOX5 binding to the Gata3 locus and decreased Gata3 and IL-4 expression, supporting a role for HOX5 proteins in direct transcriptional control of Th2 development. These results reveal a novel role for Hox5 genes as developmental regulators of Th2 immune cell function that demonstrates a redeployment of mesenchyme-associated developmental genes.

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