Research ArticleIMMUNOLOGY

MiR-23~27~24–mediated control of humoral immunity reveals a TOX-driven regulatory circuit in follicular helper T cell differentiation

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Science Advances  11 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaaw1715
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1715


Follicular helper T (TFH) cells are essential for generating protective humoral immunity. To date, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as important players in regulating TFH cell biology. Here, we show that loss of miR-23~27~24 clusters in T cells resulted in elevated TFH cell frequencies upon different immune challenges, whereas overexpression of this miRNA family led to reduced TFH cell responses. Mechanistically, miR-23~27~24 clusters coordinately control TFH cells through targeting a network of genes that are crucial for TFH cell biology. Among them, thymocyte selection–associated HMG-box protein (TOX) was identified as a central transcription regulator in TFH cell development. TOX is highly up-regulated in both mouse and human TFH cells in a BCL6-dependent manner. In turn, TOX promotes the expression of multiple molecules that play critical roles in TFH cell differentiation and function. Collectively, our results establish a key miRNA regulon that maintains optimal TFH cell responses for resultant humoral immunity.

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