IL-6 plays an important role in determining the fate of effector CD4 cells and the cytokines that these cells produce. Here we identify a novel molecular mechanism by which IL-6 regulates CD4 cell effector function. We show that IL-6-dependent signal facilitates the formation of mitochondrial respiratory chain supercomplexes to sustain high mitochondrial membrane potential late during activation of CD4 cells. Mitochondrial hyperpolarization caused by IL-6 is uncoupled from the production of ATP by oxidative phosphorylation. However, it is a mechanism to raise the levels of mitochondrial Ca2+ late during activation of CD4 cells. Increased levels of mitochondrial Ca2+ in the presence of IL-6 are used to prolong Il4 and Il21 expression in effector CD4 cells. Thus, the effect of IL-6 on mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial Ca2+ is an alternative pathway by which IL-6 regulates effector function of CD4 cells and it could contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases.
Animal experimentation: All procedures performed on the mice were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of University of Vermont using protocols #12-032 (Rincon), #11-024 (Teuscher) and by the IACUC of Trudeau Institute using protocol #03-005 (Haynes).
- Ruslan Medzhitov, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, United States
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