TNFAIP3 downregulation mediated by histone modification contributes to T-cell dysfunction in systemic lupus erythematosus

Hongjun Zhao, Lijing Wang, Hui Luo, Quan Zhen Li, Xiaoxia Zuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Objective. TNF-α-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3) is one of the major SLE susceptibility genes involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses through modulation of the nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) pathway. We aim to assess TNFAIP3 expression in CD4+ T cells and the molecular mechanism underlying TNFAIP3 regulation in the pathogenesis of SLE. Methods. The expression and epigenetic regulation of TNFAIP3 in CD4+ T cells from SLE patients and normal controls (NCs) were investigated by RT-quantitative PCR, western blot and chromatin immunoprecipitation. The functional effect of TNFAIP3 was further evaluated by knockdown or overproduction of TNFAIP3 in CD4+ T cells from SLE patients and NCs. Results. TNFAIP3 mRNA was significantly downregulated in the CD4+ T cells of SLE patients compared with NCs. The reduced expression of TNFAIP3 was associated with the reduction of H3K4me3 in the gene promoter region. Functional blockage of TNFAIP3 in normal CD4+ T cells using small interfering RNA increased the expression of IFN-γ and IL-17, but not IL-2, IL-4 and IL-5. Nevertheless, overexpression of TNFAIP3 in CD4+ T cells from SLE patients resulted in the suppression of IFN-γ and IL-17 production. Conclusion. The downregulation of TNFAIP3 in CD4+ T cells of SLE was potentially regulated by demethylation of histone H3K4, which led to a decreased amount of H3K4me3 in the promoter of the TNFAIP3 gene. The dysregulation of TNFAIP3 in CD4+ T cells may contribute to the pathogenesis of SLE by overproduction of inflammatory cytokine IFN-γ and IL-17. TNFAIP3 may serve as a promising target for the treatment of SLE in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-843
Number of pages9
JournalRheumatology (United Kingdom)
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017



  • CD4 T cell
  • Histone modification
  • Inflammatory cytokines
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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