The differentiation of CD4 helper T cells into specialized effector lineages has provided a powerful model for understanding immune cell differentiation. Distinct lineages have been defined by differential expression of signature cytokines and the lineage-specifying transcription factors necessary and sufficient for their production. The traditional paradigm of differentiation towards Th1 and Th2 subtypes driven by T-bet and GATA3, respectively, has been extended to incorporate additional T cell lineages and transcriptional regulators. Technological advances have expanded our view of these lineage-specifying transcription factors to the whole genome and revealed unexpected interplay between them. From these data, it is becoming clear that lineage specification is more complex and plastic than previous models might have suggested. Here, we present an overview of the different forms of transcription factor interplay that have been identified and how T cell phenotypes arise as a product of this interplay within complex regulatory networks. We also suggest experimental strategies that will provide further insight into the mechanisms that underlie T cell lineage specification and plasticity.
Evans, C. M., & Jenner, R. G. (2013). Transcription factor interplay in t helper cell differentiation. Briefings in Functional Genomics, 12(6), 499–511. https://doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elt025