Seminars in Immunopathology

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 315–326 | Cite as

Regulation of T cell differentiation and function by epigenetic modification enzymes

  • Huicheng Liu
  • Pingfei Li
  • Zhengping Wei
  • Cai Zhang
  • Minghui Xia
  • Qiuyang Du
  • Yufei Chen
  • Na Liu
  • Huabin Li
  • Xiang-Ping YangEmail author


Peripheral naive CD4+ and CD8+ cells are developed in the thymus and proliferate and differentiate into various specialized T cell subsets upon activation by peptide-major histocompatibility complexes in periphery to execute different functions during immune responses. Cytokines, transcription factors, and a large number of intracellular molecules have been shown to affect T cell development, activation, and function. In addition, epigenetic modifications, such as histone modification and DNA methylation, regulate T cell biology. The epigenetic modifications are regulated by a range of DNA methyltransferases, DNA demethylation enzymes, and histone modification enzymes. Dysregulations of epigenetic modifications are closely associated with autoimmune diseases and tumorigenesis. Here, we review the current literature about the functions of DNA and histone modification enzymes in T cell development, activation, differentiation, and function.


T cell Epigenetic regulation DNA methylation 5mC demethylation Histone modification enzymes 



The authors apologize to colleagues for works that were uncited due to space constrains. This work was supported by grants from the National Scientific Foundation of China to X.P.Y (81671539, 31470851, and 31870892) and to H.B.L (81725004).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial or non-financial interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Immunology, School of Basic Medicine, Tongji Medical CollegeHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of ImmunologyHubei University of MedicineShiyanChina
  3. 3.Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Center for Allergic and Inflammatory Diseases, Affiliated Eye and ENT HospitalFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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