Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling is a key component of innate immunity. Aberrant TLR activation leads to immune disorders via dysregulation of cytokine production, such as IL-12/IL-23. Herein, we identify and characterize PIKfyve, a lipid kinase, as a critical player in TLR signaling using apilimod as an affinity tool. Apilimod is a potent small molecular inhibitor of IL-12/IL-23 with an unknown target and has been evaluated in clinical trials for patients with Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Using a chemical genetic approach, we show that it binds to PIKfyve and blocks its phosphotransferase activity, leading to selective inhibition of IL-12/IL-23p40. Pharmacological or genetic inactivation of PIKfyve is necessary and sufficient for suppression of IL-12/IL-23p40 expression. Thus, we have uncovered a phosphoinositide-mediated regulatory mechanism that controls TLR signaling.
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