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Paper Chase

Induction of pathogenic TH17 cells by inducible salt-sensing kinase SGK1.

Nature. Apr 25, 2013;496(7446):513-7.
Wu C, Yosef N, Thalhamer T, Zhu C, Xiao S, Kishi Y, Regev A, Kuchroo VK.

Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


TH17 cells (interleukin-17 (IL-17)-producing helper T cells) are highly proinflammatory cells that are critical for clearing extracellular pathogens and for inducing multiple autoimmune diseases. IL-23 has a critical role in stabilizing and reinforcing the TH17 phenotype by increasing expression of IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) and endowing TH17 cells with pathogenic effector functions. However, the precise molecular mechanism by which IL-23 sustains the TH17 response and induces pathogenic effector functions has not been elucidated. Here we used transcriptional profiling of developing TH17 cells to construct a model of their signalling network and nominate major nodes that regulate TH17 development. We identified serum glucocorticoid kinase 1 (SGK1), a serine/threonine kinase, as an essential node downstream of IL-23 signalling. SGK1 is critical for regulating IL-23R expression and stabilizing the TH17 cell phenotype by deactivation of mouse Foxo1, a direct repressor of IL-23R expression. SGK1 has been shown to govern Na(+) transport and salt (NaCl) homeostasis in other cells. We show here that a modest increase in salt concentration induces SGK1 expression, promotes IL-23R expression and enhances TH17 cell differentiation in vitro and in vivo, accelerating the development of autoimmunity. Loss of SGK1 abrogated Na(+)-mediated TH17 differentiation in an IL-23-dependent manner. These data demonstrate that SGK1 has a critical role in the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells and provide a molecular insight into a mechanism by which an environmental factor such as a high salt diet triggers TH17 development and promotes tissue inflammation.