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m6A demethylase ALKBH5 controls CD4+ T cell pathogenicity and promotes autoimmunity

Zhou, J;Zhang, X;Hu, J;Qu, R;Yu, Z;Xu, H;Chen, H;Yan, L;Ding, C;Zou, Q;Ye, Y;Wang, Z;Flavell, RA;Li, HB;

N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification is dynamically regulated by “writer” and “eraser” enzymes. m6A “writers” have been shown to ensure the homeostasis of CD4+ T cells, but the “erasers” functioning in T cells is poorly understood. Here, we reported that m6A eraser AlkB homolog 5 (ALKBH5), but not FTO, maintains the ability of naïve CD4+ T cells to induce adoptive transfer colitis. In addition, T cell–specific ablation of ALKBH5 confers protection against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. During the induced neuroinflammation, ALKBH5 deficiency increased m6A modification on interferon-γ and C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 2 messenger RNA (mRNA), thus decreasing their mRNA stability and protein expression in CD4+ T cells. These modifications resulted in attenuated CD4+ T cell responses and diminished recruitment of neutrophils into the central nervous system. Our findings reveal an unexpected specific role of ALKBH5 as an m6A eraser in controlling the pathogenicity of CD4+ T cells during autoimmunity.