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Iron Drives T Helper Cell Pathogenicity by Promoting RNA-Binding Protein PCBP1-Mediated Proinflammatory Cytokine Production

Wang, Z;Yin, W;Zhu, L;Li, J;Yao, Y;Chen, F;Sun, M;Zhang, J;Shen, N;Song, Y;Chang, X;

Iron deposition is frequently observed in human autoinflammatory diseases, but its functional significance is largely unknown. Here we showed that iron promoted proinflammatory cytokine expression in T cells, including GM-CSF and IL-2, via regulating the stability of an RNA-binding protein PCBP1. Iron depletion or Pcbp1 deficiency in T cells inhibited GM-CSF production by attenuating Csf2 3′ untranslated region (UTR) activity and messenger RNA stability. Pcbp1 deficiency or iron uptake blockade in autoreactive T cells abolished their capacity to induce experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model for multiple sclerosis. Mechanistically, intracellular iron protected PCBP1 protein from caspase-mediated proteolysis, and PCBP1 promoted messenger RNA stability of Csf2 and Il2 by recognizing UC-rich elements in the 3′ UTRs. Our study suggests that iron accumulation can precipitate autoimmune diseases by promoting proinflammatory cytokine production. RNA-binding protein-mediated iron sensing may represent a simple yet effective means to adjust the inflammatory response to tissue homeostatic alterations. Copyright 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.