Epstein-Barr virus–induced gene 3 (EBI3) is a subunit common to IL-27, IL-35, and IL-39. Here, we explore an intracellular role of EBI3 that is independent of its function in cytokines. EBI3-deficient naive CD4+ T cells had reduced IFN-γ production and failed to induce T cell–dependent colitis in mice. Similarly reduced IFN-γ production was observed in vitro in EBI3-deficient CD4+ T cells differentiated under pathogenic Th17 polarizing conditions with IL-23. This is because the induction of expression of one of the IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) subunits, IL-23Rα, but not another IL-23R subunit, IL-12Rβ1, was selectively decreased at the protein level, but not the mRNA level. EBI3 augmented IL-23Rα expression via binding to the chaperone molecule calnexin and to IL-23Rα in a peptide-dependent manner, but not a glycan-dependent manner. Indeed, EBI3 failed to augment IL-23Rα expression in the absence of endogenous calnexin. Moreover, EBI3 poorly augmented the expression of G149R, an IL-23Rα variant that protects against the development of human colitis, because binding of EBI3 to the variant was reduced. Taken together with the result that EBI3 expression is inducible in T cells, the present results suggest that EBI3 plays a critical role in augmenting IL-23Rα protein expression via calnexin under inflammatory conditions.
Izuru Mizoguchi, Mio Ohashi, Hideaki Hasegawa, Yukino Chiba, Naoko Orii, Shinya Inoue, Chiaki Kawana, Mingli Xu, Katsuko Sudo, Koji Fujita, Masahiko Kuroda, Shin-ichi Hashimoto, Kouji Matsushima, Takayuki Yoshimoto