The impact of epigenetics on the differentiation of memory T (Tmem) cells is poorly defined. We generated deep epigenomes comprising genome-wide profiles of DNA methylation, histone modifications, DNA accessibility, and coding and non-coding RNA expression in naive, central-, effector-, and terminally differentiated CD45RA+ CD4+ Tmem cells from blood and CD69+ Tmem cells from bone marrow (BM-Tmem). We observed a progressive and proliferation-associated global loss of DNA methylation in heterochromatic parts of the genome during Tmem cell differentiation. Furthermore, distinct gradually changing signatures in the epigenome and the transcriptome supported a linear model of memory development in circulating T cells, while tissue-resident BM-Tmem branched off with a unique epigenetic profile. Integrative analyses identified candidate master regulators of Tmem cell differentiation, including the transcription factor FOXP1. This study highlights the importance of epigenomic changes for Tmem cell biology and demonstrates the value of epigenetic data for the identification of lineage regulators.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published