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Nat Immunol. 2007 Sep;8(9):958-66. Epub 2007 Aug 5.

The development of inflammatory T(H)-17 cells requires interferon-regulatory factor 4.

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  • 1Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Krankenhaushygiene, 35043 Marburg, Germany.


Interferon-regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) is essential for the development of T helper type 2 cells. Here we show that IRF4 is also critical for the generation of interleukin 17-producing T helper cells (T(H)-17 cells), which are associated with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. IRF4-deficient (Irf4(-/-)) mice did not develop experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, and T helper cells from such mice failed to differentiate into T(H)-17 cells. Transfer of wild-type T helper cells into Irf4(-/-) mice rendered the mice susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Irf4(-/-) T helper cells had less expression of RORgammat and more expression of Foxp3, transcription factors important for the differentiation of T(H)-17 and regulatory T cells, respectively. Altered regulation of both transcription factors contributed to the phenotype of Irf4(-/-) T helper cells. Our data position IRF4 at the center of T helper cell development, influencing not only T helper type 2 but also T(H)-17 differentiation.

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