Th17 cells are involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis. Our previous studies have revealed that transcription factor Yin Yang 1 (YY1) plays an important role in the pathogenic mechanisms of RA. However, whether YY1 has any role in Th17 cell pathogenicity and what molecular regulatory mechanism is involved remain poorly understood. Here, we found the proportion of pathogenic Th17 (pTh17) cells was significantly higher in RA than in control individuals and showed a potential relationship with YY1 expression. In addition, we also observed YY1 expression was increased in pTh17, and the pTh17 differentiation was hampered by YY1 knockdown. Consistently, knockdown of YY1 decreased the proportion of pTh17 cells and attenuated joint inflammation in collagen-induced arthritis mice. Mechanistically, YY1 could regulate the pathogenicity of Th17 cells through binding to the promoter region of transcription factor T-bet and interacting with T-bet protein. This function of YY1 for promoting pTh17 differentiation was specific to Th17 cells and not to Th1 cells. Moreover, we found miR-124-3p negatively correlated with YY1 in RA patients, and it could bind to 3′-UTR regions of YY1 to inhibit the posttranscriptional translation of YY1. Altogether, these findings indicate YY1 regulation by miR-124-3p could specifically promote Th17 cell pathogenicity in part through interaction with T-bet, and these findings present promising therapeutic targets in RA.


Jinpiao Lin, Jifeng Tang, Junyu Lin, Yujue He, Ziqing Yu, Renquan Jiang, Bin Yang, Qishui Ou


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