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Epigenomics of human CD8 T cell differentiation and aging

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Science Immunology  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 8, eaag0192
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aag0192

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Defining the tree rings of T cells

T cell function declines with age. What does T cell aging look like at the molecular level? By generating genome-wide maps of chromatin accessibility in CD8 T cells from young and elderly individuals, Moskowitz et al. have furthered our understanding of transcriptional programs that regulate T cell differentiation and aging. They report that in naïve CD8 T cells in the elderly, promoters that recruit nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1), a transcription factor that controls expression of mitochondrial proteins, are less accessible and propose that loss of NRF1 binding contributes to lower metabolic activity of aged T cells. The transcriptional circuits uncovered here set the stage for the designing rationales to modulate T cell function in the elderly.