DM Newman, S Sakaguchi, A Lun, S Preston, M Pellegrini, K Khamina, A Bergthaler, SL Nutt, GK Smyth, AK Voss, T Thomas, W Ellmeier, GT Belz, RS Allan
How functionally diverse populations of pathogen-specific killer T cells are generated during an immune response remains unclear. Here, we propose that fine-tuning of CD8αβ co-receptor levels via histone acetylation plays a role in lineage fate. We show that lysine acetyltransferase 6A (KAT6A) is responsible for maintaining permissive Cd8 gene transcription and enabling robust effector responses during infection. KAT6A-deficient CD8(+) T cells downregulated surface CD8 co-receptor expression during clonal expansion, a finding linked to reduced Cd8α transcripts and histone-H3 lysine 9 acetylation of the Cd8 locus. Loss of CD8 expression in KAT6A-deficient T cells correlated with reduced TCR signaling intensity and accelerated contraction of the effector-like memory compartment, whereas the long-lived memory compartment appeared unaffected, a result phenocopied by the removal of the Cd8 E8I enhancer element. These findings suggest a direct role of CD8αβ co-receptor expression and histone acetylation in shaping functional diversity within the cytotoxic T cell pool.