In response to infection or effective vaccination, naive antigen-specific CD8+ T cells undergo a dramatic highly orchestrated activation process. Initial encounter with an appropriately activated antigen-presenting cell leads to blastogenesis and an exponential increase in antigen-specific CD8+ T cell numbers. Simultaneously, a dynamic differentiation process occurs, resulting in formation of both primary effector and long-lived memory cells. Current findings have emphasized the heterogeneity of effector and memory cell populations with the description of multiple cellular subsets based on phenotype, function, and anatomic location. Yet, only recently have we begun to dissect the underlying factors mediating the temporal control of the development of distinct effector and memory CD8+ T cell sublineages. In this review we will focus on the requirements for mounting an effective CD8+ T cell response and highlight the elements regulating the differentiation of effector and memory subsets.
memory; CD8 T cell; differentiation
The clonal expansion, differentiation into effectors and establishing an immunological memory are crucial components of the adaptive immune response. Following the initial encounter with a pathogen, clonal CD8 T cell expansion yields at least two distinct populations of effector cells, short-lived effector cells (SLECs) and memory precursor effector cells (MPECs). SLECs are the terminally differentiated cells, which play an active role in pathogen clearance and undergo apoptosis once the pathogen is eliminated. In contrast, MPECs persist and give rise to self-renewing memory cells. These memory CD8 T cells maintain a state of heightened alertness and are poised to rapidly respond and swiftly clear the pathogen upon antigen re-encounter. As one of the goals of vaccination is to induce the development of these memory CD8 T cells, understanding the cellular and molecular basis of memory cell differentiation is critical to rational vaccine design. It is clear that memory differentiation is complex and involves multiple interrelated signaling pathways. It is influenced by factors such as the strength and duration of antigen receptor signaling and concurrent exposure to cytokines. Several signaling pathways that influence T cell fate have been recently described, and many culminate in the differential expression of specific transcription factors. Unfortunately, the mechanisms underlying the coordination and confluence of these signaling pathways remain largely unknown. In this review, we will discuss the role of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling pathway as a central signaling node, and the function of Akt as a rheostat in orchestrating the differentiation of memory CD8 T cells.
memory T cell; PI3K/Akt; mTOR; FOXO; differentiation; metabolism
In Chlamydomonas reinhardi the chloroplast DNA (ch;DNA) of mating type plus cells undergoes cyclical methylation and demethylation during the life cycle. Methylation occurs during gametogenesis, and fully differentiated gametes can be dedifferentiated back to vegetative cells which contain nonmethylated chlDNA by the addition of a nitrogen source for growth. We examined the dedifferentiation process and found that the mating ability of gametes was lost rapidly after the start of dedifferentiation at a time when the chlDNA was still methylated. The enzymatic activity of the 200-kilodalton DNA methyltransferase was lost at a rate consistent with the rate of dilution during cell division. Methylation of chlDNA decreased at a slower rate than was expected from cell division alone but was consistent with the continuing activity of the preexisting methyltransferase so long as it was present. These results support the hypothesis that demethylation of chlDNA occurs by dilution out of enzymatic methylating activity rather than by enzymatic demethylation.
CD4+ T cells differentiate into multiple effector types, but it is unclear how they form memory T cells during infection in vivo. Profiling virus-specific CD4+ T cells revealed that effector cells with T helper 1 (Th1) or T follicular helper (Tfh) cell characteristics differentiated into memory cells, although expression of Tfh cell markers declined over time. In contrast to virus-specific effector CD8+ T cells, increased IL-7R expression was not a reliable marker of CD4+ memory precursor cells. However, decreased Ly6C and T-bet (Tbx21) expression distinguished a subset of Th1 cells that displayed greater longevity and proliferative responses to secondary infection. Moreover, the gene expression profile of Ly6CloT-betint Th1 effector cells was virtually identical to mature memory CD4+ T cells, indicating early maturation of memory CD4+ T cell features in this subset during acute viral infection. This study provides a framework for memory CD4+ T cell development after acute viral infection.
Upon encountering antigen in the context of antigen presenting cells, naïve CD4+ T cells undergo differentiation into effector T helper (Th) cells, which can secrete high levels of cytokines and other immunomodulators to mediate host defense and tissue inflammation. During the past three years, the immunology field has witnessed an explosion of research advances in the biology of Th17 cells, the most recently described subset of T helper cells, which play critical roles in host immunity and inflammation. Here we review emerging data on transcriptional regulatory networks that govern the differentiation program of Th17 cells, and focus on how the orphan nuclear receptor RORγt coordinates this process in concert with diverse cytokine-induced transcription factors.
Repetitive antigen-stimulation by prime-boost vaccination or pathogen re-encounter increases memory CD8+ T cell numbers, however the impact on memory CD8+ T cell differentiation is unknown. Here we showed that repetitive antigen-stimulations induced accumulation of memory CD8+ T cells with uniform effector memory characteristics. However, genome-wide microarray analyses revealed that each additional antigen-challenge resulted in the differential regulation of several hundred new genes in the ensuing memory CD8+ T cell populations and therefore in stepwise diversification of CD8+ T cell transcriptomes. Thus, primary and repeatedly stimulated (secondary, tertiary, quaternary) memory CD8+ T cells differ substantially in their molecular signature while sharing expression of a small group of genes and biological pathways, which may constitute a core signature of memory differentiation. These results provide new insight into the complex regulation of memory CD8+ T cell differentiation and identify a spectrum of potential new molecular targets to dissect the function of memory cells generated by repeated antigen-stimulation.
Many vaccination strategies and immune cell therapies aim at increasing the numbers of memory T cells reactive to protective antigens. However, the differentiation lineage and therefore the optimal generation conditions of CD4 memory cells remain controversial. Linear and divergent differentiation models have been proposed, suggesting CD4 memory T cell development from naive precursors either with or without an effector-stage intermediate, respectively. Here, we address this question by using newly available techniques for the identification and isolation of effector T cells secreting effector cytokines. In adoptive cell transfers into normal, nonlymphopenic mice, we show that long-lived virus-specific memory T cells can efficiently be generated from purified interferon γ–secreting T helper (Th) type 1 and interleukin (IL)-4– or IL-10–secreting Th2 effectors primed in vitro or in vivo. Importantly, such effector-derived memory T cells were functional in viral challenge infections. They proliferated vigorously, rapidly modulated IL-7 receptor expression, exhibited partial stability and flexibility of their cytokine patterns, and exerted differential effects on virus-induced immunopathology. Thus, cytokine-secreting effectors can evade activation-induced cell death and develop into long-lived functional memory cells. These findings demonstrate the efficiency of linear memory T cell differentiation and encourage the design of vaccines and immune cell therapies based on differentiated effector T cells.
Interleukin (IL)-6 is produced by professional antigen-presenting cells (APCs) such as B cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. It has been previously shown that APC-derived IL-6 promotes the differentiation of naive CD4+ T cells into effector T helper type 2 (Th2) cells. Here, we have studied the molecular mechanism for IL-6–mediated Th2 differentiation. During the activation of CD4+ T cells, IL-6 induces the production of IL-4, which promotes the differentiation of these cells into effector Th2 cells. Regulation of IL-4 gene expression by IL-6 is mediated by nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), as inhibition of NFAT prevents IL-6–driven IL-4 production and Th2 differentiation. IL-6 upregulates NFAT transcriptional activity by increasing the levels of NFATc2. The ability of IL-6 to promote Th2 differentiation is impaired in CD4+ T cells that lack NFATc2, demonstrating that NFATc2 is required for regulation of IL-4 gene expression by IL-6. Regulation of NFATc2 expression and NFAT transcriptional activity represents a novel pathway by which IL-6 can modulate gene expression.
CD4+ T cells; IL-4; NFAT; cytokines; gene regulation
In mammals, the dynamics of DNA methylation, in particular the regulated, active removal of cytosine methylation, has remained a mystery, partly due to the lack of appropriate model systems to study DNA demethylation. Previous work has largely focused on proliferating cell types that are mitotically arrested using pharmacological inhibitors to distinguish between active and passive mechanisms of DNA demethylation.
We explored this epigenetic phenomenon in a natural setting of post-mitotic cells: the differentiation of human peripheral blood monocytes into macrophages or dendritic cells, which proceeds without cell division. Using a global, comparative CpG methylation profiling approach, we identified many novel examples of active DNA demethylation and characterized accompanying transcriptional and epigenetic events at these sites during monocytic differentiation. We show that active DNA demethylation is not restricted to proximal promoters and that the time-course of demethylation varies for individual CpGs. Irrespective of their location, the removal of methylated cytosines always coincided with the appearance of activating histone marks.
Demethylation events are highly reproducible in monocyte-derived dendritic cells from different individuals. Our data suggest that active DNA demethylation is a precisely targeted event that parallels or follows the modification of histones, but is not necessarily coupled to alterations in transcriptional activity.
It is generally thought that during the contraction phase of an acute anti-viral T cell reponse, the effector T cells that escape activation-induced cell death eventually differentiate into central memory T cells over the next several weeks. Here we report that antigen-specific CD8T cells with the phenotype and function of central memory cells develop concomitantly with effector T cells during vaccinia virus (vv) infection. As soon as 5 days after an intraperitoneal infection with vv, we could identify a subset of CD44hi and CD62L+ vv-specific CD8 T cells in the peritoneal exudate lymphocytes. This population constituted approximately 10% of all antigen-specific T cells and like central memory T cells, they also expressed high levels of CCR7 and IL-7R but expressed little granzyme B. Importantly, upon adoptive transfer into naïve congenic hosts, CD62L+, but not CD62L− CD8 T cells were able to expand and mediate a rapid recall response to a new vv challenge initiated 6 weeks after transfer, confirming that the CD62L+ vv-specific CD8 T cells are bonafide memory cells. Our results are thus consistent with the branched differentiation model, where effector and memory cells develop simultaneously. These results are likely to have implications in the context of vaccine design, particularly those based on vaccinia virus recombinants.
Major histocompatibility complex-restricted helper T cell clones against "minor" antigens expressed on B cell and macrophage surfaces, when confronted with appropriate T cell-depleted spleen cells, are induced to proliferation and, in turn, activate "target-responder" B cells to polyclonal growth and maturation. Irradiation of helper cell populations, however, demonstrates that their effector functions (and B lymphocyte responses) are independent of proliferative activity. Adherent cell depletion on Sephadex G10 columns, while completely abrogating helper T cell proliferation, does not abolish helper cell- induced B cell responses, demonstrating a remarkable quantitative difference in macrophage requirements for the growth of these two cell types. Because significant B cell responses are detected upon interaction with primed helper T cells under conditions of extreme macrophage depletion, we conclude that the role of macrophages in T-B cell cooperation is limited to expansion of optimal numbers of helper T lymphocytes. It follows that activated helper cells can autonomously produce all B cell-specific growth and maturation factors mediating cooperative antibody responses. In contrast, the profound reduction of LPS-induced responses upon macrophage depletion suggests accessory cell production of such factors in thymus-independent B cell growth and/or maturation.
Functionally exhausted T cells express high levels of the PD-1 inhibitory receptor, and therapies that block PD-1 signaling show promise for resolving chronic viral infections and cancer. Using human and murine systems of acute and chronic viral infections we analyzed epigenetic regulation of PD-1 expression during CD8 T cell differentiation. During acute infection, naïve to effector CD8 T cell differentiation was accompanied by a transient loss of DNA methylation of the Pdcd1 locus that was directly coupled to the duration and strength of TCR signaling. Further differentiation into functional memory cells coincided with Pdcd1 remethylation providing an adapted program for regulation of PD-1 expression. In contrast, the Pdcd1 regulatory region was completely demethylated in exhausted CD8 T cells and remained unmethylated even when virus titers decreased. This lack of DNA remethylation leaves the Pdcd1 locus poised for rapid expression, potentially providing a signal for premature termination of antiviral functions.
Immunological memory is thought to depend upon a stem cell-like, self-renewing population of lymphocytes capable of differentiating into effector cells in response to antigen re-exposure. Here we describe a long-lived human memory T-cell population that displays enhanced self-renewal and multipotent capacity to derive central memory, effector memory and effector T cells. These cells, specific for multiple viral and self-tumor antigens, were found within a CD45RO−, CCR7+, CD45RA+, CD62L+, CD27+, CD28+ and IL-7Rα+ T-cell compartment characteristic of naïve T cells. However, they expressed increased levels of CD95, IL-2Rβ, CXCR3, and LFA-1, and exhibited numerous functional attributes distinctive of memory cells. Compared to known memory populations, these lymphocytes displayed increased proliferative capacity, more efficiently reconstituted immunodeficient hosts and mediated superior anti-tumor responses in a humanized mouse model. The identification of a human stem cell-like memory T-cell population is of direct relevance to the design of vaccines and T-cell therapies.
In previous studies we demonstrated that, following activation by mitogens or alloantigens, helper T cell precursors proliferate and differentiate in vitro to produce a population of effector cells that secrete high titers of lymphokines upon restimulation. In this report, we demonstrate that a similar effector population develops in vivo following primary antigen stimulation. When restimulated with specific antigen in vitro, CD4+ T cells from mice primed 5 to 7 days previously by subcutaneous administration of keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) in adjuvant, produced high levels of interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-4, and IL-3, and little or no interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) or IL-5. The effector T cells provided excellent helper activity for in vitro antibody responses of 4-hydroxy-5-iodo-nitrophenyl acetic acid-primed B cells with the production principally of the immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgM isotypes, small quantities of IgG3, and no detectable IgG2a, or IgG2b. Antigen-specific secretion of IL-2, IL-3, and IL-4 by in vivo effectors was detectable by 12 hours following in vitro restimulation. IFN-gamma and IL-5 were not detected until 48 and 72 hours of culture, respectively, and low levels of these lymphokines were produced. Lymphokine production by primed CD4+ T cells could be induced as early as 3 days following immunization, peaked on day 5, and declined thereafter. The kinetics of in vivo appearance of effector CD4+ T cells that produce lymphokines upon restimulation in vitro were similar for each of the lymphokines examined. Mice depleted of precursor CD4+ T cells by adult thymectomy exhibited limited capacity to generate lymphokine secreting CD4+ T cells in response to primary immunization with KLH, suggesting that the majority of lymphokine producing T cells arise from short-lived and/or precursor cells. Separation of CD4+ T cells from KLH-primed mice on the basis of expression of the lymph node- specific homing receptor, MEL-14, revealed that antigen-specific production of IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, and IFN-gamma was exclusively associated with the MEL-14- subset of CD4+ T cells. Separation on the basis of CD45RB expression, demonstrated that antigen-specific lymphokine production was primarily associated with the minor CD45RB- population, which has been previously associated with memory activity. Our results indicate that primary in vivo immunization leads to the development of a transient population of helper-effectors with a unique phenotype that can produce large quantities of lymphokines and mediate excellent helper activity for B cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
Infection of rat embryo cells with herpes simplex virus type 2 caused undermethylation of host cell DNA synthesized during infection. DNA made prior to infection was not demethylated, but some of its degradation products, including methyl dCMP, were incorporated into viral DNA. The use of mutant virus showed that some viral DNA synthesis appears to be required for the inhibition of methylation. Inhibition of methylation cannot be explained by an absence of DNA methyltransferase as the activity of this enzyme did not change during the early period of infection. Inhibition of host cell DNA methylation may be an important step in the transformation of cells by herpesviruses, and various transformed cell lines tested showed reduced levels of DNA methylation.
CD4+T cells are crucial in achieving a regulated effective immune response to pathogens. Naive CD4+T cells are activated after interaction with antigen-MHC complex and differentiate into specific subtypes depending mainly on the cytokine milieu of the microenvironment. Besides the classical T-helper 1 and T-helper 2, other subsets have been identified, including T-helper 17, regulatory T cell, follicular helper T cell, and T-helper 9, each with a characteristic cytokine profile. For a particular phenotype to be differentiated, a set of cytokine signaling pathways coupled with activation of lineage-specific transcription factors and epigenetic modifications at appropriate genes are required. The effector functions of these cells are mediated by the cytokines secreted by the differentiated cells. This paper will focus on the cytokine-signaling and the network of transcription factors responsible for the differentiation of naive CD4+T cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are considered to be one of the most promising therapeutic cell sources as they encompass a plasticity of multiple cell lineages. The challenge in using these cells lies in developing well-defined protocols for directing cellular differentiation to generate a desired lineage. In this study, we investigated the effect of 5-azacytidine, a DNA demethylating agent, on osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. The cells were exposed to 5-azacytidine in culture medium for 24 h prior to osteogenic induction. Osteogenic differentiation was determined by several the appearance of a number of osteogenesis characteristics, including gene expression, ALP activity, and calcium mineralization. Pretreatment of MSCs with 5-azacytidine significantly facilitated osteogenic differentiation and was accompanied by hypomethylation of genomic DNA and increased osteogenic gene expression. Taking dlx5 as a representative, methylation alterations of the “CpG island shore” in the promoter caused by 5-azacytidine appeared to contribute to osteogenic differentiation.
5-Azacytidine; Mesenchymal stem cells; Osteogenic differentiation; DNA methylation; Epigenetic
In conditions of T lymphopenia, interleukin (IL) 7 levels rise and, via T cell receptor for antigen–self–major histocompatibility complex (MHC) interaction, induce residual naive T cells to proliferate. This pattern of lymphopenia-induced “homeostatic” proliferation is typically quite slow and causes a gradual increase in total T cell numbers and differentiation into cells with features of memory cells. In contrast, we describe a novel form of homeostatic proliferation that occurs when naive T cells encounter raised levels of IL-2 and IL-15 in vivo. In this situation, CD8+ T cells undergo massive expansion and rapid differentiation into effector cells, thus closely resembling the T cell response to foreign antigens. However, the responses induced by IL-2/IL-15 are not seen in MHC-deficient hosts, implying that the responses are driven by self-ligands. Hence, homeostatic proliferation of naive T cells can be either slow or fast, with the quality of the response to self being dictated by the particular cytokine (IL-7 vs. IL-2/IL-15) concerned. The relevance of the data to the gradual transition of naive T cells into memory-phenotype (MP) cells with age is discussed.
Upon activation, naïve CD4+ T cells differentiate into effector T cells with specific effector functions and cytokine profiles. The Th1/Th2 paradigm has recently been reevaluated to include a third population of T helper cells, producing IL-17 and designated Th17. The differentiation of Th17 cells requires the coordinate and specific action of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 and the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-β. In addition, the IL-12 family member IL-23 is involved in the maintenance of these cells. Analogous to other T helper cell subsets, Th17 commitment is initiated by sequential involvement of STAT molecules, i. e. STAT3 downstream of cytokine receptors, and specific transcription factors, i. e. ROR-γt. Recent data also support the existence of a complex network of cytokines regulating Th17 cells. Clearly, the specific effector functions of Th17 cells expand beyond previously described effects of Th1 and Th2 immunity, with specific roles in host defense against certain pathogens and in organ specific autoimmunity. The potential dynamics of Th17 cell populations and their interplay with other inflammatory cells in the induction of tissue inflammation in host defense and organ-specific autoimmunity are discussed.
Th17; regulatory T cells; autoimmunity; inflammation
In addition to TCR and costimulatory signals, cytokine signals are required for the differentiation of activated CD8 T cells into memory T cells and their survival. Previously, we have shown that IL-12 priming during initial antigenic stimulation significantly enhanced the survival of activated CD8 T cells and increased the memory cell population. In the present study, we analyzed the mechanisms by which IL-12 priming contributes to activation and survival of CD8 T cells.
We observed dramatically decreased expression of CD43 in activated CD8 T cells by IL-12 priming. We purified CD43lo and CD43hi cells after IL-12 priming and analyzed the function and survival of each population both in vivo and in vitro.
Compared to CD43hi effector cells, CD43lo effector CD8 T cells exhibited reduced cytolytic activity and lower granzyme B expression but showed increased survival. CD43lo effector CD8 T cells also showed increased in vivo expansion after adoptive transfer and antigen challenge. The enhanced survival of CD43lo CD8 T cells was also partly associated with CD62L expression.
We suggest that CD43 expression regulated by IL-12 priming plays an important role in differentiation and survival of CD8 T cells.
CD8 T cell; IL-12; CD43; Survival
Age-related declines in humoral responses contribute to the reduced efficacy of vaccines in older populations. Using an adoptive transfer model, we have shown that age-related intrinsic declines in CD4 T cell function contribute significantly to the reduced humoral responses observed with aging, resulting in reduced B cell expansion and differentiation as well as reduced IgG production. In this current study, we show that the helper function of aged CD4 T cells can be enhanced using a TLR-binding adjuvant or an adjuvant containing proinflammatory (PI) cytokines. The helper function of aged CD4 T cells was also enhanced when PI cytokines were added during in vitro CD4 effector generation. Enhanced helper activity resulted in improved expansion and differentiation of B cells and affinity maturation of IgG. PI cytokines also induced significant production of effector cytokines, including IL-4, IFN-γ, IL-17, and IL-21, by both young and aged CD4 T cells. Importantly, we also show that proinflammatory adjuvants can significantly enhance the humoral response in intact aged animals. We propose that one of the mechanisms involved in the ability of adjuvants to enhance both young and aged T cell responses includes driving multifaceted T cell differentiation and production of multiple cytokines by responding CD4 T cells.
Animals constantly receive and respond to external or internal stimuli, and these experiences are learned and memorized in their brains. In animals, this is a crucial feature for survival, by making it possible for them to adapt their behavioral patterns to the ever-changing environment. For this learning and memory process, nerve cells in the brain undergo enormous molecular and cellular changes, not only in the input-output-related local subcellular compartments but also in the central nucleus. Interestingly, the DNA methylation pattern, which is normally stable in a terminally differentiated cell and defines the cell type identity, is emerging as an important regulatory mechanism of behavioral plasticity. The elucidation of how this covalent modification of DNA, which is known to be the most stable epigenetic mark, contributes to the complex orchestration of animal behavior is a fascinating new research area. We will overview the current understanding of the mechanism of modifying the methyl code on DNA and its impact on learning and memory.
Genomic methylation patterns are established during maturation of primordial germ cells and during gametogenesis. While methylation is linked to DNA replication in somatic cells, active de novo methylation and demethylation occur in post-replicative spermatocytes during meiotic prophase (1). We have examined differentiating male germ cells for alternative forms of DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase (DNA MTase) and have found a 6.2 kb DNA MTase mRNA that is present in appreciable quantities only in testis; in post-replicative pachytene spermatocytes it is the predominant form of DNA MTase mRNA. The 5.2 kb DNA MTase mRNA, characteristic of all somatic cells, was detected in isolated type A and B spermatogonia and haploid round spermatids. Immunobolt analysis detected a protein in spermatogenic cells with a relative mass of 180,000-200,000, which is close to the known size of the somatic form of mammalian DNA MTase. The demonstration of the differential developmental expression of DNA MTase in male germ cells argues for a role for testicular DNA methylation events, not only during replication in premeiotic cells, but also during meiotic prophase and postmeiotic development.
The study of CpG methylation of genomic DNA in neurons has emerged from the shadow of cancer biology into a fundamental investigation of neuronal physiology. This advance began with the discovery that catalytic and receptor proteins related to the insertion and recognition of this chemical mark are robustly expressed in neurons. At the smallest scale of analysis is the methylation of a single cytosine base within a regulatory cognate sequence. This singular alteration in a nucleotide can profoundly modify transcription factor binding with a consequent effect on the primary ‘transcript'. At the single promoter level, the methylation–demethylation of CpG islands and associated alterations in local chromatin assemblies creates a type of cellular ‘memory' capable of long-term regulation of transcription particularly in stages of brain development, differentiation, and maturation. Finally, at the genome-wide scale, methylation studies from post-mortem brains suggest that CpG methylation may serve to cap the genome into active and inactive territories introducing a ‘masking' function. This may facilitate rapid DNA–protein interactions by ambient transcriptional proteins onto actively networked gene promoters. Beyond this broad portrayal, there are vast gaps in our understanding of the pathway between neuronal activity and CpG methylation. These include the regulation in post-mitotic neurons of the executor proteins, such as the DNA methyltransferases, the elusive and putative demethylases, and the interactions with histone modifying enzymes.
CpG; methylation; demethylase; epigenetics; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; biological psychiatry; molecular and cellular neurobiology; neurochemistry; plasticity; CpG; methylation; demethylase; epigenetics; schizophrenia
Transcription factor-induced lineage reprogramming or transdifferentiation experiments are essential for understanding the plasticity of differentiated cells. These experiments helped to define the specific role of transcription factors in conferring cell identity and played a key role in the development of the regenerative medicine field. We here investigated the acquisition of DNA methylation changes during C/EBPα-induced pre-B cell to macrophage transdifferentiation. Unexpectedly, cell lineage conversion occurred without significant changes in DNA methylation not only in key B cell- and macrophage-specific genes but also throughout the entire set of genes differentially methylated between the two parental cell types. In contrast, active and repressive histone modification marks changed according to the expression levels of these genes. We also demonstrated that C/EBPα and RNA Pol II are associated with the methylated promoters of macrophage-specific genes in reprogrammed macrophages without inducing methylation changes. Our findings not only provide insights about the extent and hierarchy of epigenetic events in pre-B cell to macrophage transdifferentiation but also show an important difference to reprogramming towards pluripotency where promoter DNA demethylation plays a pivotal role.