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The RNA binding protein IMP2 drives a stromal-Th17 cell circuit in autoimmune neuroinflammation

Bechara, R;Amatya, N;Majumder, S;Zhou, C;Li, Y;Liu, Q;McGeachy, MJ;Gaffen, SL;

Stromal cells are emerging as key drivers of autoimmunity, in part by producing inflammatory chemokines that orchestrate inflammation. Chemokine expression is regulated transcriptionally but also through post-transcriptional mechanisms, the specific drivers of which are still incompletely defined. CCL2 (MCP1) is a multifunctional chemokine that drives myeloid cell recruitment. During experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an IL-17-driven model of multiple sclerosis, CCL2 produced by lymph node (LN) stromal cells is essential for immunopathology. Here, we show that Ccl2 mRNA upregulation in human stromal fibroblasts in response to IL-17 requires the RNA binding protein (RBP) insulin like growth factor 2 mRNA binding protein 2 (IGF2BP2, IMP2), which is expressed almost exclusively in non-hematopoietic cells. IMP2 binds directly to CCL2 mRNA, markedly extending its transcript half-life and thus required for efficient CCL2 secretion. Consistent with this, Imp2-/- mice showed reduced CCL2 production in LN during EAE, causing impairments in monocyte recruitment and Th17 cell polarization. Imp2-/- mice were fully protected from CNS inflammation. Moreover, deletion of IMP2 after EAE onset was sufficient to mitigate disease severity. These data show that posttranscriptional control of Ccl2 in stromal cells by IMP2 is required to permit IL-17-driven progression of EAE pathogenesis.