Unlike adaptive lymphocytes, innate and innate-like lymphocytes acquire stereotypic polarized helper effector programs during development, independently of pathogen exposure and prior to taking up residence in peripheral tissues where they function as first line of defense against aggressions by pathogens, allergens, tumors and injuries. Our group has established that PLZF encoded by Zbtb16 is a signature master transcription factor directing the acquisition of innate effector programs across many of these innate lineages, including CD1d-restricted NKT cells, MR1-restricted MAIT cells, ?? T cell subsets and innate lymphoid cells (ILC). While the genetic mechanisms of activation of this effector program by PLZF is now well dissected, this project specifically focuses on the conditions leading to the expression of PLZF during lymphoid development. Since PLZF is necessary and sufficient for activation of the innate effector program, the central question of this proposal revolves around the regulation of PLZF expression itself. Our general hypothesis is that specific transcriptional regulatory networks act upon distinct or partially overlapping sets of enhancers to govern Zbtb16 expression in different innate lineages. We will use recent technical advances that allow broad mapping of genomic regions of chromatin accessibility (ATAC-seq) and their systematic deletions (Crispr-Cas9) to comprehensively dissect the enhancer landscape (regulome) of Zbtb16 in vivo (Specific Aim 1). Through advanced computational motif analysis, we will then identify candidate transcription factors (trans-regulation) and evaluate their contributions to the regulation of Zbtb16 expression (Specific Aim 2). Finally, we will examine the mutual antagonism between PLZF and Bach2, to understand how they reciprocally regulate the innate and adaptive pathways of lymphocyte development (Specific Aim 3). Collectively, these specific aims address the fundamental dichotomy between innate and adaptive lymphocyte development and will generate knowledge and tools to selectively manipulate their properties for therapeutic benefit in health and disease.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research will investigate the mechanisms that regulate the development of innate lymphocytes, the first line of defense against multiple infectious, tumoral, allergic and inflammatory diseases. It is relevant to public health because the results will generate new knowledge on the mechanisms diseases and generate new tools to diagnose, prevent or correct these conditions. Thus, this work will directly support the overall NIH mission of developing fundamental knowledge that will help reduce the burden of human disease and, specifically, prevent and treat infection, inflammation, allergy and tumors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cellular and Molecular Immunology - B Study Section (CMIB)
Program Officer
Kelly, Halonna R
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Chicago
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Bunker, Jeffrey J; Bendelac, Albert (2018) IgA Responses to Microbiota. Immunity 49:211-224
McDonald, Benjamin D; Jabri, Bana; Bendelac, Albert (2018) Diverse developmental pathways of intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes. Nat Rev Immunol 18:514-525
Bunker, Jeffrey J; Erickson, Steven A; Flynn, Theodore M et al. (2017) Natural polyreactive IgA antibodies coat the intestinal microbiota. Science 358:
Mao, Ai-Ping; Ishizuka, Isabel E; Kasal, Darshan N et al. (2017) A shared Runx1-bound Zbtb16 enhancer directs innate and innate-like lymphoid lineage development. Nat Commun 8:863
Ishizuka, Isabel E; Chea, Sylvestre; Gudjonson, Herman et al. (2016) Single-cell analysis defines the divergence between the innate lymphoid cell lineage and lymphoid tissue-inducer cell lineage. Nat Immunol 17:269-76
Constantinides, Michael G; Gudjonson, Herman; McDonald, Benjamin D et al. (2015) PLZF expression maps the early stages of ILC1 lineage development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:5123-8
Constantinides, Michael G; Bendelac, Albert (2013) Transcriptional regulation of the NKT cell lineage. Curr Opin Immunol 25:161-7
Bai, Li; Constantinides, Michael G; Thomas, Seddon Y et al. (2012) Distinct APCs explain the cytokine bias of ?-galactosylceramide variants in vivo. J Immunol 188:3053-61
Seiler, Michael P; Mathew, Rebecca; Liszewski, Megan K et al. (2012) Elevated and sustained expression of the transcription factors Egr1 and Egr2 controls NKT lineage differentiation in response to TCR signaling. Nat Immunol 13:264-71
Savage, Adam K; Constantinides, Michael G; Bendelac, Albert (2011) Promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger turns on the effector T cell program without requirement for agonist TCR signaling. J Immunol 186:5801-6

Showing the most recent 10 out of 12 publications