BRD4 is a bromodomain extraterminal domain family member and functions primarily as a chromatin reader regulating genes involved in cell-fate decisions. Here, we bred Brd4fl/fl Ox40-Cre mice in which Brd4 was conditionally deleted in OX40-expressing cells to examine the role of BRD4 in regulating immune responses. We found that the Brd4fl/fl Ox40-Cre mice developed profound alopecia and dermatitis, while other organs and tissues were not affected. Surprisingly, lineage-tracing experiments using the Rosa26fl/fl-Yfp mice identified a subset of hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) that constitutively express OX40, and deletion of Brd4 specifically in such HFSCs resulted in cell death and a complete loss of skin hair growth. We also found that death of HFSCs triggered massive activation of the intradermal γδ T cells, which induced epidermal hyperplasia and dermatitis by producing the inflammatory cytokine IL-17. Interestingly, deletion of Brd4 in Foxp3+ Tregs, which also constitutively express OX40, compromised their suppressive functions, and this, in turn, contributed to the enhanced activation of γδ T cells, as well as the severity of dermatitis and hair follicle destruction. Thus, our data demonstrate an unexpected role of BRD4 in regulating skin follicle stem cells and skin inflammation.


Mou Wen, Yuanlin Ying, Xiang Xiao, Preston R. Arnold, Guangchuan Wang, Xiufeng Chu, Rafik M. Ghobrial, Xian C. Li


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