TH17 cells require ongoing classic IL-6 receptor signaling to retain transcriptional and functional identity

Academic Article


  • Acting in concert with TGF, interleukin-6 (IL-6) signaling induces T helper 17 (TH17) cell development by programming TH17-related genes via signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3). A role for IL-6 signaling beyond the inductive phase of TH17 cell development has not been defined because IL-23 signaling downstream of TH17 cell induction also activates STAT3 and is thought responsible for TH17 cell maintenance. Here, we find that IL-6 signaling is required for both induction and maintenance of mouse TH17 cells; IL-6R–deficient TH17 cells rapidly lost their TH17 phenotype and did not cause disease in two models of colitis. Cotransfer of wild-type TH17 cells with IL-6R–deficient TH17 cells induced colitis but was unable to rescue phenotype loss of the latter. High IL-6 expression in the colon promoted classic, or cis, rather than transreceptor signaling that was required for maintenance of TH17 cells. Thus, ongoing classic IL-6 signaling underpins the TH17 program and is required for TH17 cell maintenance and function.
  • Published In

  • Science Immunology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Harbour SN; DiToro DF; Witte SJ; Zindl CL; Gao M; Schoeb TR; Jones GW; Jones SA; Hatton RD; Weaver CT
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 49