Genome-wide analyses reveal the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway promotes T helper cell differentiation by resolving secretory stress and accelerating proliferation

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BackgroundThe IRE1a-XBP1 pathway is a conserved adaptive mediator of the unfolded protein response. The pathway is indispensable for the development of secretory cells by facilitating protein folding and enhancing secretory capacity. In the immune system, it is known to function in dendritic cells, plasma cells, and eosinophil development and differentiation, while its role in T helper cell is unexplored. Here, we investigated the role of the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway in regulating activation and differentiation of type-2 T helper cell (Th2), a major T helper cell type involved in allergy, asthma, helminth infection, pregnancy, and tumor immunosuppression.MethodsWe perturbed the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway and interrogated its role in Th2 cell differentiation. We performed genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of differential gene expression to reveal IRE1a-XBP1 pathway-regulated genes and predict their biological role. To identify direct target genes of XBP1 and define XBP1's regulatory network, we performed XBP1 ChIPmentation (ChIP-seq). We validated our predictions by flow cytometry, ELISA, and qPCR. We also used a fluorescent ubiquitin cell cycle indicator mouse to demonstrate the role of XBP1 in the cell cycle.ResultsWe show that Th2 lymphocytes induce the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway during in vitro and in vivo activation. Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of differential gene expression by perturbing the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway reveals XBP1-controlled genes and biological pathways. Performing XBP1 ChIPmentation (ChIP-seq) and integrating with transcriptomic data, we identify XBP1-controlled direct target genes and its transcriptional regulatory network. We observed that the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway controls cytokine secretion and the expression of two Th2 signature cytokines, IL13 and IL5. We also discovered that the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway facilitates activation-dependent Th2 cell proliferation by facilitating cell cycle progression through S and G2/M phase.ConclusionsWe confirm and detail the critical role of the IRE1a-XBP1 pathway during Th2 lymphocyte activation in regulating cytokine expression, secretion, and cell proliferation. Our high-quality genome-wide XBP1 ChIP and gene expression data provide a rich resource for investigating XBP1-regulated genes.
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