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Semin Immunol. 2007 Dec;19(6):353-61. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Th17 T cells: linking innate and adaptive immunity.

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Division of Molecular Immunology, The MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK.


While the cytokine IL-17 has been cloned and described more than 10 years ago [Yao Z, Fanslow WC, Seldin MF, Rousseau AM, Painter SL, Comeau MR, et al. Herpesvirus Saimiri encodes a new cytokine, IL-17, which binds to a novel cytokine receptor. Immunity 1995;3(6):811-21; Kennedy J, Rossi DL, Zurawski SM, Vega Jr F, Kastelein RA, Wagner JL, et al. Mouse IL-17: a cytokine preferentially expressed by alpha beta TCR+CD4-CD8-T cells. J Interferon Cytokine Res 1996;16(8):611-7], it was only 2 years ago that IL-17 producing T cells have been classified as a new distinct CD4 T cell subset [Harrington LE, Hatton RD, Mangan PR, Turner H, Murphy TL, Murphy KM, et al. Interleukin 17-producing CD4+ effector T cells develop via a lineage distinct from the T helper type 1 and 2 lineages. Nat Immunol 2005;6(11):1123-32] and only in 2006 the molecular mechanisms underlying their differentiation were identified [Veldhoen M, Hocking RJ, Atkins CJ, Locksley RM, Stockinger B. TGFbeta in the context of an inflammatory cytokine milieu supports de novo differentiation of IL-17-producing T cells. Immunity 2006;24(2):179-89; Bettelli E, Carrier Y, Gao W, Korn T, Strom TB, Oukka M, et al. Reciprocal developmental pathways for the generation of pathogenic effector TH17 and regulatory T cells. Nature 2006;441(7090):235-8; Mangan PR, Harrington LE, O'Quinn DB, Helms WS, Bullard DC, Elson CO, et al. Transforming growth factor-beta induces development of the T(H)17 lineage. Nature 2006;441(7090):231-4]. Since then the literature on IL-17 producing cells has grown steadily and many reviews of the field are already outdated by the time they are published, a fate that no doubt will affect this review as well. In order to avoid too many repetitions we focus this review mainly on publications in 2006 and 2007 and refer to a number of reviews, which cover earlier aspects of Th17/IL-17 biology.

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