Interleukin 17 (IL-17)-mediated immunity plays a key role in protection from fungal infections in mice and man. Here, we confirmed that mice deficient in the IL-17 receptor or lacking the ability to secrete IL-17 are highly susceptible to systemic candidiasis, but we found that temporary blockade of the IL-17 pathway during infection in wild-type mice did not impact fungal control. Rather, mice lacking IL-17 receptor signaling had a cell-intrinsic impairment in the development of functional NK cells, which accounted for the susceptibility of these mice to systemic fungal infection. NK cells promoted antifungal immunity by secreting GM-CSF, necessary for the fungicidal activity of neutrophils. These data reveal that NK cells are crucial for antifungal defense and indicate a role for IL-17 family cytokines in NK cell development. The IL-17-NK cell axis may impact immunity against not only fungi but also bacteria, viruses, and tumors.
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