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Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation Regulates the Fate Decision between Pathogenic Th17 and Regulatory T Cells

Shin, B;Benavides, GA;Geng, J;Koralov, SB;Hu, H;Darley-Usmar, VM;Harrington, LE;

Understanding metabolic pathways that regulate Th17 development is important to broaden therapeutic options for Th17-mediated autoimmunity. Here, we report a pivotal role of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for lineage specification toward pathogenic Th17 differentiation. Th17 cells rapidly increase mitochondrial respiration during development, and this is necessary for metabolic reprogramming following Tcell activation. Surprisingly, specific inhibition of mitochondrial ATP synthase ablates Th17 pathogenicity in a mouse model of autoimmunity by preventing Th17 pathogenic signature gene expression. Notably, cells activated under OXPHOS-inhibited Th17 conditions preferentially express Foxp3, rather than Th17 genes, and become suppressive Treg cells. Mechanistically, OXPHOS promotes the Th17 pioneer transcription factor, BATF, and facilitates Tcell receptor (TCR) and mTOR signaling. Correspondingly, overexpression of BATF rescues Th17 development when ATP synthase activity is restricted. Together, our data reveal a regulatory role of mitochondrial OXPHOS in dictating the fate decision between Th17 and Treg cells by supporting early molecular events necessary for Th17 commitment. Copyright 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.