The autoimmune regulator (Aire) gene plays an essential role in negative selection of T cells and deletion of autoreactive T cells in the thymus. The defect in thymic selection in Aire-/- mice was attributed to the repressed expression of tissue-specific Ags in the thymic epithelial cells and defective Ag presentation; however, the molecular mechanism underlying these functions has been elusive. Using the chromatin immunoprecipitation technique, we demonstrate here that Aire binds in vivo to specific DNA sequence motifs and directly regulates thymic expression of genes important for thymic functions including expression of autoantigens, cytokines, transcription factors, and posttranslational modifiers. These results unambiguously established Aire as a key transcriptional regulator of the immune system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy