CTL differentiation is controlled by the crosstalk of various transcription factors and epigenetic modulators. Uncovering this process is fundamental to improving immunotherapy and designing novel therapeutic approaches. In this study, we show that polycomb repressive complex 1 subunit chromobox (Cbx)4 favors effector CTL differentiation in a murine model. Cbx4 deficiency in CTLs induced a transcriptional signature of memory cells and increased the memory CTL population during acute viral infection. It has previously been shown that besides binding to H3K27me3 through its chromodomain, Cbx4 functions as a small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) E3 ligase in a SUMO-interacting motifs (SIM)-dependent way. Overexpression of Cbx4 mutants in distinct domains showed that this protein regulates CTL differentiation primarily in an SIM-dependent way and partially through its chromodomain. Our data suggest a novel role of a polycomb group protein Cbx4 controlling CTL differentiation and indicated SUMOylation as a key molecular mechanism connected to chromatin modification in this process.

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