T cell differentiation into distinct functional effector and inhibitory subsets is regulated, in part, by the cytokine environment present at the time of antigen recognition. Here, we show that hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), a key metabolic sensor, regulates the balance between regulatory T cell (T(reg)) and T(H)17 differentiation. HIF-1 enhances T(H)17 development through direct transcriptional activation of RORγt and via tertiary complex formation with RORγt and p300 recruitment to the IL-17 promoter, thereby regulating T(H)17 signature genes. Concurrently, HIF-1 attenuates T(reg) development by binding Foxp3 and targeting it for proteasomal degradation. Importantly, this regulation occurs under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Mice with HIF-1α-deficient T cells are resistant to induction of T(H)17-dependent experimental autoimmune encephalitis associated with diminished T(H)17 and increased T(reg) cells. These findings highlight the importance of metabolic cues in T cell fate determination and suggest that metabolic modulation could ameliorate certain T cell-based immune pathologies.
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