The immune system is under strict regulatory control to ensure homeostasis of inflammatory responses, lying dormant when not needed but quick to act when called upon. Small changes in gene expression can lead to drastic changes in lineage commitment, cellular function, and immunity. Conventional assessment of these changes centered on the analysis of mRNA levels through a variety of methodologies, including microarrays. However, mRNA synthesis does not always correlate directly to protein synthesis and downstream functional activity. Work conducted in recent years has begun to shed light on the various post-transcriptional changes that occur in response to a dynamic external environment in which a given immune cell type encounters. In this chapter, we provide a critical review of key post-transcriptional and translational mechanisms of regulation of gene expression in the immune system, with an emphasis of these regulatory processes in various CD4+ T cell subsets and their related effector functions.
Part of the book: Gene Expression and Regulation in Mammalian Cells