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Sci. Signal., 19 June 2012
Vol. 5, Issue 229, p. ra45
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002873]


Histone Deacetylases 6 and 9 and Sirtuin-1 Control Foxp3+ Regulatory T Cell Function Through Shared and Isoform-Specific Mechanisms

Ulf H. Beier1,2, Liqing Wang3, Rongxiang Han3, Tatiana Akimova3, Yujie Liu3, and Wayne W. Hancock2,3*

1 Division of Nephrology, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
2 University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
3 Division of Transplant Immunology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Biesecker Center for Pediatric Liver Disease, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Abstract: Therapeutic inhibition of the histone deacetylases HDAC6, HDAC9, or sirtuin-1 (Sirt1) augments the suppressive functions of regulatory T cells (Tregs) that contain the transcription factor Foxp3 (Forkhead box P3) and is useful in organ transplant patients or patients with autoimmune diseases. However, it is unclear whether distinct mechanisms are involved for each HDAC or whether combined inhibition of HDACs would be more effective. We compared the suppressive functions of Tregs from wild-type C57BL/6 mice with those from mice with either complete or cell-specific deletion of various HDACs, as well as with those of Tregs treated with isoform-selective HDAC inhibitors. The improvement of Treg suppressive function mediated by inhibition of HDAC6, but not Sirt1, required an intact heat shock response. Although HDAC6, HDAC9, and Sirt1 all deacetylated Foxp3, each protein had different effects on transcription factors that control expression of the gene encoding Foxp3. For example, loss of HDAC9, but not other HDACs, was associated with stabilization of the acetylated form of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) and promoted its transcriptional activity. Thus, targeting different HDACs increased Treg function through multiple and additive mechanisms, which suggests the therapeutic potential for using combinations of HDAC inhibitors in the management of autoimmunity and organ transplantation.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: whancock{at}

Citation: U. H. Beier, L. Wang, R. Han, T. Akimova, Y. Liu, W. W. Hancock, Histone Deacetylases 6 and 9 and Sirtuin-1 Control Foxp3+ Regulatory T Cell Function Through Shared and Isoform-Specific Mechanisms. Sci. Signal. 5, ra45 (2012).

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