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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Nov 6;109(45):18529-34. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1204557109. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

T cell receptor/CARMA1/NF-κB signaling controls T-helper (Th) 17 differentiation.

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  • 1Section of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. lmoliner@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu

Abstract

IL-17-producing CD4 T cells play a key role in immune responses against extracellular bacteria and autoimmunity. Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is required for T-cell activation and selected effector functions, but its role in Th17 differentiation is controversial. Using genetic mouse models that impede T-cell-NF-κB signaling either downstream of the T-cell receptor (TCR) or of IκB kinase β (IKKβ), we demonstrate that NF-κB signaling controls not only survival and proliferation of activated T cells, but, if cell survival and cell-cycle progression are enabled, has an additional role in promoting completion of Th17 differentiation. CARD-containing MAGUK protein 1 (CARMA1), an adapter required for TCR/NF-κB signaling, was necessary for acquisition of IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-21, IL-22, IL-23R, and CCR6 expression in T cells cultured under Th17 conditions. In proliferating cells, lack of CARMA1 selectively prevented Th17, but not Th1 or Th2 differentiation, in a cell-intrinsic manner. Consistent with these data, CARMA1-KO mice were resistant to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Surprisingly, transcription factors essential for Th17 differentiation such as RORγt, AHR, and IRF4 were normally induced in CARMA1-KO T cells activated under Th17 conditions, suggesting that the Th17 differentiation program was initiated normally. Instead, chromatin loci of Th17 effector molecules failed to acquire an open conformation in CARMA1-KO T cells. Our results demonstrate that TCR/CARMA1/NF-κB controls completion of Th17 differentiation by enabling chromatin accessibility of Th17 effector molecule loci.

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