Dysregulated expression of interleukin 17 (IL-17) in the colonic mucosa is associated with colonic inflammation and cancer. However, the cell-intrinsic molecular mechanisms by which IL-17 expression is regulated remain unclear. We found that deficiency in the ubiquitin ligase Itch led to spontaneous colitis and increased susceptibility to colon cancer. Itch deficiency in the T H 17 subset of helper T cells, innate lymphoid cells and γδ T cells resulted in the production of elevated amounts of IL-17 in the colonic mucosa. Mechanistically, Itch bound to the transcription factor ROR-γt and targeted ROR-γt for ubiquitination. Inhibition or genetic inactivation of ROR-γt attenuated IL-17 expression and reduced spontaneous colonic inflammation in Itch -/- mice. Thus, we have identified a previously unknown role for Itch in regulating IL-17-mediated colonic inflammation and carcinogenesis.
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