Zbtb1 controls NKp46+ ROR-gamma-T+ innate lymphoid cell (ILC3) development
Expression of the transcription factor Zbtb1 is required for normal lymphoid development. We report in the present study that Zbtb1 maintains genome integrity in immune progenitors, without which cells undergo increased DNA damage and p53-mediated apoptosis during replication and differentiation. Increased DNA damage in Zbtb1-mutant (ScanT) progenitors was due to increased sensitivity to replication stress, which was a consequence of inefficient activation of the S-phase checkpoint response. Increased p53-mediated apoptosis affected not only lymphoid but also myeloid development in competitive bone marrow chimeras, and prevention of apoptosis by transgenic Bcl2 expression and p53 deficiency rescued lymphoid as well as myeloid development from Zbtb1-mutant progenitors. Interestingly, however, protection from apoptosis rescued only the early stages of T cell development, and thymocytes remained arrested at the double-negative 3 developmental stage, indicating a strict requirement of Zbtb1 at later T cell developmental stages. Collectively, these results indicate that Zbtb1 prevents DNA damage in replicating immune progenitors, allowing the generation of B cells, T cells, and myeloid cells.