Lymphoid to myeloid cell trans-differentiation is determined by C/EBPβ structure and post-translational modifications


  • B. Stoilova
  • E. Kowenz-Leutz
  • M. Scheller
  • A. Leutz


  • PLoS ONE


  • PLoS ONE 8 (6): e65169


  • The transcription factor C/EBP{beta} controls differentiation, proliferation, and functionality of many cell types, including innate immune cells. A detailed molecular understanding of how C/EBP{beta} directs alternative cell fates remains largely elusive. A multitude of signal-dependent post-translational modifications (PTMs) differentially affect the protean C/EBP{beta} functions. In this study we apply an assay that converts primary mouse B lymphoid progenitors into myeloid cells in order to answer the question how C/EBP{beta} regulates (trans-) differentiation and determines myeloid cell fate. We found that structural alterations and various C/EBP{beta} PTMs determine the outcome of trans-differentiation of lymphoid into myeloid cells, including different types of monocytes/macrophages, dendritic cells, and granulocytes. The ability of C/EBP{beta} to recruit chromatin remodeling complexes is required for the granulocytic trans-differentiation outcome. These novel findings reveal that PTMs and structural plasticity of C/EBP{beta} are adaptable modular properties that integrate and rewire epigenetic functions to direct differentiation to diverse innate immune system cells, which are crucial for the organism survival.