Early divergence of Th1 and Th2 transcriptomes involves a small core response and sets of transiently expressed genes

Authors


Full correspondence: Dr. Henk-Jan van den Ham, P. O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Fax: +31 10 70 44760

e-mail: h.j.vandenham@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

Th cells can adopt a number of different phenotypes. We performed microarray-assisted mRNA profiling on antigen-stimulated, TCR transgenic murine splenocytes that were cultured in the presence of cytokines. Transcriptome snapshots of Th cells differentiating into Th1 and Th2 phenotypes were obtained at various time points. Principal component analysis shows that time since activation and Th skewing are the largest sources of variance (i.e. the largest contributing factors) in our profiling experiments. Divergence between the Th1 and Th2 phenotypes is established early and does not increase in terms of number of differential genes from day 1 to day 4 after stimulation. Notwithstanding the lack of further divergence between the Th1 and Th2 lineages, we show that gene expression is best described by a ‘turnover’ rather than a ‘core response’ model, although we find evidence for both. We identify clusters of skewed genes associated with early persistent (‘core response’) and late (‘turnover’) Th1 and Th2 gene expression. In addition to the classical Th genes, members of the Batf transcription factor family are differentially expressed in particular helper phenotypes, suggesting an important role for this family in Th-cell phenotype differentiation.

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