Homeobox transcription factor VentX regulates differentiation and maturation of human dendritic cells [Gene Regulation]

April 4th, 2014 by Wu, X., Gao, H., Bleday, R., Zhu, Z.

Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized antigen presentation cells that play critical roles in the initiation and regulation of immune responses. The molecular determinants of DC differentiation and maturation are target of extensive investigation. VentX is a human homeobox transcriptional factor that regulates proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. In the current study, we report that ablation of VentX expression in monocytes significantly impaired their differentiation into DCs. Conversely, overexpression of VentX in monocytic THP1 cells accelerated their differentiation towards DCs. We showed that VentX regulates DC differentiation, in part, through modulating IL6 expression. Clinically, we found that VentX expression was elevated in intestinal lamina propria DCs (LPDCs) of inflamed mucosa from inflammatory bowel diseases patients. Knockdown experiments suggested that VentX is essential for the maturation of LPDCs. In addition, corticosteroid treatment markedly decreased VentX expression in LPDCs and enforced expression of VentX counteracted the effects of corticosteroid on DCs maturation. Our data suggest that VentX is a critical transcriptional regulator of DC differentiation and maturation, and a potential target of immune regulation and therapy.