Lineage specification of human dendritic cells is marked by IRF8 expression in hematopoietic stem cells and multipotent progenitors.

Lee J *, Zhou Y *, Ma W *, Zhang W, Aljoufi A, Luh T, Lucero K, Liang D, Thomsen M, Bhagat G, Shen Y [+], Liu K [+]

Nature immunology, 2017.

Lab members marked as bold; * authors with equal contribution; [+] co-senior authors


The origin and specification of human dendritic cells (DCs) have not been investigated at the clonal level. Through the use of clonal assays, combined with statistical computation, to quantify the yield of granulocytes, monocytes, lymphocytes and three subsets of DCs from single human CD34(+) progenitor cells, we found that specification to the DC lineage occurred in parallel with specification of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to the myeloid and lymphoid lineages. This started as a lineage bias defined by specific transcriptional programs that correlated with the combinatorial ‘dose’ of the transcription factors IRF8 and PU.1, which was transmitted to most progeny cells and was reinforced by upregulation of IRF8 expression driven by the hematopoietic cytokine FLT3L during cell division. We propose a model in which specification to the DC lineage is driven by parallel and inheritable transcriptional programs in HSCs and is reinforced over cell division by recursive interactions between transcriptional programs and extrinsic signals.