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Immunity. 2010 Aug 27;33(2):192-202. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.07.014. Epub 2010 Jul 30.

Interferon-regulatory factor 4 is essential for the developmental program of T helper 9 cells.

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Institute for Immunology, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, 55131 Mainz, Germany.


Interferon-regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) is essential for the development of T helper 2 (Th2) and Th17 cells. Herein, we report that IRF4 is also crucial for the development and function of an interleukin-9 (IL-9)-producing CD4(+) T cell subset designated Th9. IRF4-deficient CD4(+) T cells failed to develop into IL-9-producing Th9 cells, and IRF4-specific siRNA inhibited IL-9 production in wild-type CD4(+) T cells. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analyses revealed direct IRF4 binding to the Il9 promoter in Th9 cells. In a Th9-dependent asthma model, neutralization of IL-9 substantially ameliorated asthma symptoms. The relevance of these findings is emphasized by the fact that the induction of IL-9 production also occurs in human CD4(+) T cells accompanied by the upregulation of IRF4. Our data clearly demonstrate the central function of IRF4 in the development of Th9 cells and underline the contribution of this T helper cell subset to the pathogenesis of asthma.

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