• GATA-3;
  • ETP;
  • β-selection;
  • CD4 SP;
  • Th2

Summary:  GATA family transcription factors play multiple vital roles in hematopoiesis in many cell lineages, and in particular, T cells require GATA-3 for execution of several developmental steps. Transcriptional activation of the Gata3 gene is observed throughout T-cell development and differentiation in a stage-specific fashion. GATA-3 has been described as a master regulator of T-helper 2 (Th2) cell differentiation in mature CD4+ T cells. During T-cell development in the thymus, its roles in the CD4 versus CD8 lineage choice and at the β-selection checkpoint are the best characterized. In contrast, its importance prior to β-selection has been obscured both by the developmental heterogeneity of double negative (DN) 1 thymocytes and the paucity of early T-lineage progenitors (ETPs), a subpopulation of DN1 cells that contains the most immature thymic progenitors that retain potent T-lineage developmental potential. By examining multiple lines of in vivo evidence procured through the analysis of Gata3 mutant mice, we have recently demonstrated that GATA-3 is additionally required at the earliest stage of thymopoiesis for the development of the ETP population. Here, we review the characterized functions of GATA-3 at each stage of T-cell development and discuss hypothetical molecular pathways that mediate these functions.