Interleukin-3 (IL-3) receptor α (IL-3Rα) is the α subunit of the ligand-specific IL-3R and initiates intracellular signaling in response to IL-3. IL-3 amplifies proinflammatory signaling and cytokine storm in murine sepsis models. Here we found that RNFT2 (RING finger transmembrane-domain containing protein 2, also TMEM118), a previously uncharacterized RING finger ubiquitin E3 ligase, negatively regulated IL-3–dependent cellular responses through IL-3Rα ubiquitination and degradation in the proteasome. In vitro, IL-3 stimulation promoted IL-3Rα proteasomal degradation dependent on RNFT2, and we identified IL-3Rα lysine 357 as a ubiquitin acceptor site. We determined that LPS priming reduces RNFT2 abundance, extends IL-3Rα half-life, and sensitizes cells to the effects of IL-3, acting synergistically to increase proinflammatory signaling. In vivo, IL-3 synergized with LPS to exacerbate lung inflammation in LPS and Pseudomonas aeruginosa–challenged mice; conversely, IL-3 neutralization reduced LPS-induced lung injury. Further, RNFT2 overexpression reduced lung inflammation and injury, whereas Rnft2 knockdown exacerbated inflammatory responses in LPS-induced murine lung injury. Last, we examined RNFT2 and IL-3Rα in human lung explants from patients with cystic fibrosis and also showed that IL-3 is elevated in mechanically ventilated critically ill humans at risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome. These results identify RNFT2 as a negative regulator of IL-3Rα and show a potential role for the RNFT2/IL-3Rα/IL-3 axis in regulating innate immune responses in the lung.


Yao Tong, Travis B. Lear, John Evankovich, Yanwen Chen, James D. Londino, Michael M. Myerburg, Yingze Zhang, Iulia D. Popescu, John F. McDyer, Bryan J. McVerry, Karina C. Lockwood, Michael J. Jurczak, Yuan Liu, Bill B. Chen


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