The transcription factor Interferon Regulatory Factor 4 (IRF4) is essential for TH2 and TH17 cell formation and controls peripheral CD8+ T cell differentiation. We used Listeria monocytogenes infection to characterize the function of IRF4 in TH1 responses. IRF4−/− mice generated only marginal numbers of listeria-specific TH1 cells. After transfer into infected mice, IRF4−/− CD4+ T cells failed to differentiate into TH1 cells as indicated by reduced T-bet and IFN-γ expression, and showed limited proliferation. Activated IRF4−/− CD4+ T cells exhibited diminished uptake of the glucose analog 2-NBDG, limited oxidative phosphorylation and strongly reduced aerobic glycolysis. Insufficient metabolic adaptation contributed to the limited proliferation and TH1 differentiation of IRF4−/− CD4+ T cells. Our study identifies IRF4 as central regulator of TH1 responses and cellular metabolism. We propose that this function of IRF4 is fundamental for the initiation and maintenance of all TH cell responses.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)