Classical dendritic cells (cDCs), monocytes, and plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) arise from a common bone marrow precursor (macrophage and DC progenitors [MDPs]) and express many of the same surface markers, including CD11c. We describe a previously uncharacterized zinc finger transcription factor, zDC (Zbtb46, Btbd4), which is specifically expressed by cDCs and committed cDC precursors but not by monocytes, pDCs, or other immune cell populations. We inserted diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor (DTR) cDNA into the 3′ UTR of the zDC locus to serve as an indicator of zDC expression and as a means to specifically deplete cDCs. Mice bearing this knockin express DTR in cDCs but not other immune cell populations, and DT injection into zDC-DTR bone marrow chimeras results in cDC depletion. In contrast to previously characterized CD11c-DTR mice, non-cDCs, including pDCs, monocytes, macrophages, and NK cells, were spared after DT injection in zDC-DTR mice. We compared immune responses to Toxoplasma gondii and MO4 melanoma in DT-treated zDC- and CD11c-DTR mice and found that immunity was only partially impaired in zDC-DTR mice. Our results indicate that CD11c-expressing non-cDCs make significant contributions to initiating immunity to parasites and tumors.
- Submitted: 16 December 2011
- Accepted: 2 May 2012
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