Journal of biomedical science 2017 07 2124(1) 49 doi 10.1186/s12929-017-0354-8
B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp-1) serves as a master regulator of the development and function of antibody-producing B cells. Given that its function in T lymphocytes has been identified within the past decade, we review recent findings with emphasis on its role in coordinated control of gene expression during the development, differentiation, and function of T cells. Expression of Blimp-1 is mainly confined to activated T cells and is essential for the production of interleukin (IL)-10 by a subset of forkhead box (Fox)p3(+) regulatory T cells with an effector phenotype. Blimp-1 is also required to induce cell elimination in the thymus and critically modulates peripheral T cell activation and proliferation. In addition, Blimp-1 promotes T helper (Th) 2 lineage commitment and limits Th1, Th17 and follicular helper T cell differentiation. Furthermore, Blimp-1 coordinates with other transcription factors to regulate expression of IL-2, IL-21 and IL-10 in effector T lymphocytes. In CD8(+) T cells, Blimp-1 expression is distinct in heterogeneous populations at the stages of clonal expansion, differentiation, contraction and memory formation when they encounter antigens. Moreover, Blimp-1 plays a fundamental role in coordinating cytokine receptor signaling networks and transcriptional programs to regulate diverse aspects of the formation and function of effector and memory CD8(+) T cells and their exhaustion. Blimp-1 also functions as a gatekeeper of T cell activation and suppression to prevent or dampen autoimmune disease, antiviral responses and antitumor immunity. In this review, we discuss the emerging roles of Blimp-1 in the complex regulation of gene networks that regulate the destiny and effector function of T cells and provide a Blimp-1-dominated transcriptional framework for T lymphocyte homeostasis.