Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation Regulates the Fate Decision between Pathogenic Th17 and Regulatory T Cells

Academic Article


  • Understanding metabolic pathways that regulate Th17 development is important to broaden therapeutic options for Th17-mediated autoimmunity. Here, we report a pivotal role of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for lineage specification toward pathogenic Th17 differentiation. Th17 cells rapidly increase mitochondrial respiration during development, and this is necessary for metabolic reprogramming following T cell activation. Surprisingly, specific inhibition of mitochondrial ATP synthase ablates Th17 pathogenicity in a mouse model of autoimmunity by preventing Th17 pathogenic signature gene expression. Notably, cells activated under OXPHOS-inhibited Th17 conditions preferentially express Foxp3, rather than Th17 genes, and become suppressive Treg cells. Mechanistically, OXPHOS promotes the Th17 pioneer transcription factor, BATF, and facilitates T cell receptor (TCR) and mTOR signaling. Correspondingly, overexpression of BATF rescues Th17 development when ATP synthase activity is restricted. Together, our data reveal a regulatory role of mitochondrial OXPHOS in dictating the fate decision between Th17 and Treg cells by supporting early molecular events necessary for Th17 commitment.
  • Published In

  • Cell Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shin B; Benavides GA; Geng J; Koralov SB; Hu H; Darley-Usmar VM; Harrington LE
  • Start Page

  • 1898
  • End Page

  • 1909.e4
  • Volume

  • 30
  • Issue

  • 6