Immune health requires innate and adaptive immune cells to engage precisely balanced pro- and anti-inflammatory forces. We employ the concept of chemical immunophenotypes to classify small molecules functionally or mechanistically according to their patterns of effects on primary innate and adaptive immune cells. The high-specificity, low-toxicity cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8) inhibitor 16-didehydro-cortistatin A (DCA) exerts a distinct tolerogenic profile in both innate and adaptive immune cells. DCA promotes regulatory T cells (Treg) and Th2 differentiation while inhibiting Th1 and Th17 differentiation in both murine and human cells. This unique chemical immunophenotype led to mechanistic studies showing that DCA promotes Treg differentiation in part by regulating a previously undescribed CDK8-GATA3-FOXP3 pathway that regulates early pathways of Foxp3 expression. These results highlight previously unappreciated links between Treg and Th2 differentiation and extend our understanding of the transcription factors that regulate Treg differentiation and their temporal sequencing. These findings have significant implications for future mechanistic and translational studies of CDK8 and CDK8 inhibitors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology