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Epigenetic initiation of the TH17 differentiation program is promoted by Cxxc finger protein 1

Lin, F;Meng, X;Guo, Y;Cao, W;Liu, W;Xia, Q;Hui, Z;Chen, J;Hong, S;Zhang, X;Wu, C;Wang, D;Wang, J;Lu, L;Qian, W;Wei, L;Wang, L;

IL-6/STAT3 signaling is known to initiate the TH17 differentiation program, but the upstream regulatory mechanisms remain minimally explored. Here, we show that Cxxc finger protein 1 (Cxxc1) promoted the generation of TH17 cells as an epigenetic regulator and prevented their differentiation into Treg cells. Mice with a T cell-specific deletion of Cxxc1 were protected from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and were more susceptible to Citrobacter rodentium infection. Cxxc1 deficiency decreased IL-6R expression and impeded IL-6/STAT3 signaling, whereas the overexpression of IL-6R could partially reverse the defects in Cxxc1-deficient TH17 cells in vitro and in vivo. Genome-wide occupancy analysis revealed that Cxxc1 bound to Il6r gene loci by maintaining the appropriate H3K4me3 modification of its promoter. Therefore, these data highlight that Cxxc1 as a key regulator governs the balance between TH17 and Treg cells by controlling the expression of IL-6R, which affects IL-6/STAT3 signaling and has an impact on TH17-related autoimmune diseases. Copyright 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).