Promoter H3K4 methylation dynamically reinforces activation-induced pathways in human CD4 T cells

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The epigenetic determinants driving the responses of CD4 T cells to antigen are currently an area of active research. Much has been done to characterize helper T-cell subsets and their associated genome-wide epigenetic patterns. In contrast, little is known about the dynamics of histone modifications during CD4 T-cell activation and the differential kinetics of these epigenetic marks between naive and memory T cells. In this study, we have detailed the dynamics of genome-wide promoter H3K4me2 and H3K4me3 over a time course during activation of human naive and memory CD4 T cells. Our results demonstrate that changes to H3K4 methylation occur relatively late after activation (5 days) and reinforce activation-induced upregulation of gene expression, affecting multiple pathways important to T-cell activation, differentiation and function. The dynamics and mapped pathways of H3K4 methylation are distinctly different in memory cells, which have substantially more promoters marked by H3K4me3 alone, reinforcing their more differentiated state. Our study provides the first data examining genome-wide histone modification dynamics during CD4 T-cell activation, providing insight into the cross talk between H3K4 methylation and gene expression, and underscoring the impact of these marks upon key pathways integral to CD4 T-cell activation and function.

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