Natural killer (NK) cells develop from common progenitors but diverge into distinct subsets, which differ in cytokine production, cytotoxicity, homing, and memory traits. Given their promise in adoptive cell therapies for cancer, a deeper understanding of regulatory modules controlling clinically beneficial NK phenotypes is of high priority. We report integrated “-omics” analysis of human NK subsets, which revealed super-enhancers associated with gene cohorts that may coordinate NK functions and localization. A transcription factor-based regulatory scheme also emerged, which is evolutionarily conserved and shared by innate and adaptive lymphocytes. For both NK and T lineages, a TCF1-LEF1-MYC axis dominated the regulatory landscape of long-lived, proliferative subsets that traffic to lymph nodes. In contrast, effector populations circulating between blood and peripheral tissues shared a PRDM1-dominant landscape. This resource defines transcriptional modules, regulated by feedback loops, which may be leveraged to enhance phenotypes for NK cell-based therapies. © 2018 Elsevier Inc.
A combination of single-cell and systems biology approaches determines the molecular programs defining the identity and function of human tissue resident type I innate lymphoid cells and natural killer cells. © 2018 Elsevier Inc.