The thymus has spatially distinct microenvironments, the cortex and the medulla, where the developing T-cells are selected to mature or die through the interaction with thymic stromal cells. To establish the immunological self in the thymus, medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) express diverse sets of tissue-specific self-antigens (TSAs). This ectopic expression of TSAs largely depends on the transcriptional regulator Aire, yet the mechanism controlling Aire expression itself remains unknown. Here, we show that Jmjd6, a dioxygenase that catalyses lysyl hydroxylation of splicing regulatory proteins, is critical for Aire expression. Although Jmjd6 deficiency does not affect abundance of Aire transcript, the intron 2 of Aire gene is not effectively spliced out in the absence of Jmjd6, resulting in marked reduction of mature Aire protein in mTECs and spontaneous development of multi-organ autoimmunity in mice. These results highlight the importance of intronic regulation in controlling Aire protein expression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)