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DGAT1 inhibits retinol-dependent regulatory T cell formation and mediates autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Graham, KL;Werner, BJ;Moyer, KM;Patton, AK;Krois, CR;Yoo, HS;Tverskoy, M;LaJevic, M;Napoli, JL;Sobel, RA;Zabel, BA;Butcher, EC;

The balance of effector versus regulatory T cells (Tregs) controls inflammation in numerous settings, including multiple sclerosis (MS). Here we show that memory phenotype CD4+ T cells infiltrating the central nervous system during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a widely studied animal model of MS, expressed high levels of mRNA for Dgat1 encoding diacylglycerol-O-acyltransferase-1 (DGAT1), an enzyme that catalyzes triglyceride synthesis and retinyl ester formation. DGAT1 inhibition or deficiency attenuated EAE, with associated enhanced Treg frequency; and encephalitogenic, DGAT1-/- in vitro-polarized Th17 cells were poor inducers of EAE in adoptive recipients. DGAT1 acyltransferase activity sequesters retinol in ester form, preventing synthesis of retinoic acid, a cofactor for Treg generation. In cultures with T cell-depleted lymphoid tissues, retinol enhanced Treg induction from DGAT1-/- but not from WT T cells. The WT Treg induction defect was reversed by DGAT1 inhibition. These results demonstrate that DGAT1 suppresses retinol-dependent Treg formation and suggest its potential as a therapeutic target for autoimmune inflammation.