Identification of positive regulators of T-cell immunity induced during autoimmune diseases is critical for developing novel therapies. The endoplasmic reticulum resident ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 has recently emerged as a critical regulator of dendritic cell antigen presentation, but its role in T-cell immunity is unknown. Here we show that genetic deletion of Hrd1 in mice inhibits T-cell proliferation, production of IL-2, and differentiation of Th1 and Th17 cells, and consequently protects mice from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Hrd1 facilitates T-cell proliferation by the destruction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 kip1, and deletion of p27 kip1 in Hrd1-null T-cells rescues proliferative capacity but not the production of cytokines, including IL-2, IFN-3 and IL-17. T-cell expression of Hrd1 is higher in patients with multiple sclerosis than in healthy individuals, and knockdown of Hrd1 in human CD4 + T cells inhibits activation and differentiation to Th1 and Th17 cells. Our study identifies Hrd1 as a previously unappreciated positive regulator of T cells and implies that Hrd1 is a potential therapeutic target for autoimmune diseases.
Xu, Y., Zhao, F., Qiu, Q., Chen, K., Wei, J., Kong, Q., … Fang, D. (2016). The ER membrane-anchored ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 is a positive regulator of T-cell immunity. Nature Communications, 7. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12073