Hobit and Blimp1 instruct a universal transcriptional program of tissue residency in lymphocytes

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Science  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6284, pp. 459-463
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2035

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Transcription factors define tissue T cells

The immune system fights microbial invaders by maintaining multiple lines of defense. For instance, specialized memory T cells [resident memory T cells (Trms)] colonize portals of pathogen entry, such as the skin, lung, and gut, to quickly halt reinfections. Mackay et al. now report that in mice, Trms as well as other tissue-dwelling lymphocyte populations such as natural killer cells share a common transcriptional program driven by the related transcription factors Hobit and Blimp1. Tissue residency and retention of lymphocytes require expression of Hobit and Blimp1, which, among other functions, suppress genes that promote tissue exit.

Science, this issue p. 459


Tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cells permanently localize to portals of pathogen entry, where they provide immediate protection against reinfection. To enforce tissue retention, Trm cells up-regulate CD69 and down-regulate molecules associated with tissue egress; however, a Trm-specific transcriptional regulator has not been identified. Here, we show that the transcription factor Hobit is specifically up-regulated in Trm cells and, together with related Blimp1, mediates the development of Trm cells in skin, gut, liver, and kidney in mice. The Hobit-Blimp1 transcriptional module is also required for other populations of tissue-resident lymphocytes, including natural killer T (NKT) cells and liver-resident NK cells, all of which share a common transcriptional program. Our results identify Hobit and Blimp1 as central regulators of this universal program that instructs tissue retention in diverse tissue-resident lymphocyte populations.

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