c-Rel is an essential transcription factor for the development of acute graft-versus-host disease in mice

Yu Yu, Dapeng Wang, Kane Kaosaard, Chen Liu, Jianing Fu, Kelley Haarberg, Claudio Anasetti, Amer A. Beg, Xue Zhong Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Transcription factors of the Rel/NF-κB family are known to play different roles in immunity and inflammation, although the putative role of c-Rel in transplant tolerance and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains elusive. We report here that T cells deficient for c-Rel have a dramatically reduced ability to cause acute GVHD after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation using major and minor histocompatibility mismatched murine models. In the study to understand the underlying mechanisms, we found that c-Rel-/- T cells had a reduced ability to expand in lymphoid organs and to infiltrate in GVHD target organs in allogeneic recipients. c-Rel-/- T cells were defective in the differentiation into Th1 cells after encountering alloantigens, but were enhanced in the differentiation toward Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells. Furthermore, c-Rel-/- T cells had largely preserved activity to mediate graft-versus-leukemia response. Taken together, our findings indicate that c-Rel plays an essential role in T cells in the induction of acute GVHD, and suggest that c-Rel can be a potential target for therapeutic intervention in allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2327-2337
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • C-Rel
  • Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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