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Immunity. 2008 Dec 19;29(6):899-911. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.10.011. Epub 2008 Dec 8.

IRF-4-binding protein inhibits interleukin-17 and interleukin-21 production by controlling the activity of IRF-4 transcription factor.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The T helper 17 (Th17) cell lineage is important in inflammatory and autoimmune responses, via its ability to produce interleukin-17 (IL-17) and IL-21. Given the potentially deleterious effects of Th17 cells, their generation needs to be strictly controlled. IRF-4 is a transcription factor that has recently emerged as a key regulator of Th17 cell differentiation. Here, we showed that mice deficient in a previously isolated protein, IBP (IRF-4-binding protein), rapidly developed rheumatoid arthritis-like joint disease and large-vessel vasculitis. The pathology was associated with an enhanced responsiveness of T cells to low levels of stimulation and with the inappropriate synthesis of IL-17 and IL-21. IBP sequestered IRF-4 and prevented it from targeting the transcriptional regulatory regions of the genes that encode IL-17 and IL-21. Thus, IBP appears to be important in preventing T cell-mediated autoimmunity by ensuring that the production of IL-17 and IL-21 does not occur in response to self-antigens.

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