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Mucosal Immunol. 2015 Sep;8(5):1118-30. doi: 10.1038/mi.2015.3. Epub 2015 Feb 11.

Deficiency of autophagy protein Map1-LC3b mediates IL-17-dependent lung pathology during respiratory viral infection via ER stress-associated IL-1.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.


While recent studies suggest that interleukin (IL)-1β production is modulated by macroautophagy or sensors of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress upon pro-inflammatory insult, autophagy and IL-1β production during viral infection has not been fully investigated. This was addressed using respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is associated with lung immunopathology, IL-1, and IL-17a secretion in severely infected patients. Mice deficient in the autophagy-associated protein Map1-LC3b (LC3b(-/-)) developed increased IL-17a-dependent lung pathology upon infection. RSV-infected LC3b(-/-) dendritic cells (DCs) fail to upregulate autophagosome formation, secrete IL-1β and IL-6, and elicit IL-17a production from CD4+ T cells. Bone marrow chimeras revealed that both structural and hematopoietic LC3b deficiency contribute to the development of IL-17a-dependent lung pathology in vivo. Further investigation revealed airway epithelium as the primary source of IL-1β during infection, whereas inhibition of the ER-stress sensor inositol-requiring protein-1 in primary airway epithelial cells reduced IL-1β production identifying a primary ER stress pathway. Finally, blockade of IL-1 receptor signaling in RSV-infected LC3b(-/-) mice abolished IL-17a-dependent lung pathology. These findings provide novel mechanistic insight into the contribution of autophagy- and ER stress-dependent cytokine production that initiate and maintain aberrant Th17 responses, while identifying IL-1 as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of severe respiratory viral infections.

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