The circadian rhythm–related aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator-like 2 (Arntl2) gene has been identified as a candidate gene for the murine type 1 diabetes locus Idd6.3. Previous studies suggested a role in expansion of CD4+CD25− T cells, and this then creates an imbalance in the ratio between T-effector and CD4+CD25+ T-regulator cells. Our transcriptome analyses identify the interleukin 21 (IL21) gene (Il21) as a direct target of ARNTL2. ARNTL2 binds in an allele-specific manner to the RNA polymerase binding site of the Il21 promoter and inhibits its expression in NOD.C3H congenic mice carrying C3H alleles at Idd6.3. IL21 is known to promote T-cell expansion, and in agreement with these findings, mice with C3H alleles at Idd6.3 produce lower numbers of CD4+IL21+ and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells compared with mice with NOD alleles at Idd6.3. Our results describe a novel and rather unexpected role for Arntl2 in the immune system that lies outside of its predicted function in circadian rhythm regulation.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db13-1702/-/DC1.
- Received November 6, 2013.
- Accepted February 3, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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