The transcription factor FoxP3 can fold into two dimerization states with divergent implications for regulatory T cell function and immune homeostasis.
Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Immunity, Volume 55, Issue 8, p.1354-1369.e8 (2022)
Keywords:Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit, Dimerization, DNA, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Homeostasis, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory
<p>FoxP3 is an essential transcription factor (TF) for immunologic homeostasis, but how it utilizes the common forkhead DNA-binding domain (DBD) to perform its unique function remains poorly understood. We here demonstrated that unlike other known forkhead TFs, FoxP3 formed a head-to-head dimer using a unique linker (Runx1-binding region [RBR]) preceding the forkhead domain. Head-to-head dimerization conferred distinct DNA-binding specificity and created a docking site for the cofactor Runx1. RBR was also important for proper folding of the forkhead domain, as truncation of RBR induced domain-swap dimerization of forkhead, which was previously considered the physiological form of FoxP3. Rather, swap-dimerization impaired FoxP3 function, as demonstrated with the disease-causing mutation R337Q, whereas a swap-suppressive mutation largely rescued R337Q-mediated functional impairment. Altogether, our findings suggest that FoxP3 can fold into two distinct dimerization states: head-to-head dimerization representing functional specialization of an ancient DBD and swap dimerization associated with impaired functions.</p>