Transcription factor Smad-independent T helper 17 cell induction by transforming-growth factor-β is mediated by suppression of eomesodermin

Immunity. 2011 May 27;34(5):741-54. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.02.021. Epub 2011 May 19.


Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) has been shown to be required for Th17 cell differentiation via Smad-independent mechanisms. The molecular mechanism underlying this pathway remains to be clarified, however. We searched for genes regulated by TGF-β through the Smad-independent pathway by using Smad2 and Smad3 double-deficient T cells and identified the transcription factor Eomesodermin (Eomes), whose expression was suppressed by TGF-β via the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)-c-Jun signaling pathway. Inhibition of JNK strongly suppressed disease in an in vivo EAE model as well as in vitro Th17 cell induction. Overexpression of Eomes substantially suppressed Th17 cell differentiation, whereas ablation of Eomes expression could substitute for TGF-β in Th17 cell induction in primary T cells. Eomes suppressed Rorc and Il17a promoters by directly binding to the proximal region of these promoters. In conclusion, the suppression of Eomes by TGF-β via the JNK pathway is an important mechanism for Smad-independent Th17 cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Differentiation
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smad2 Protein / deficiency
  • Smad2 Protein / immunology*
  • Smad3 Protein / deficiency
  • Smad3 Protein / immunology*
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / immunology*
  • Th17 Cells / cytology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / immunology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Eomes protein, mouse
  • Smad2 Protein
  • Smad2 protein, mouse
  • Smad3 Protein
  • Smad3 protein, mouse
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases