Targeting prohibitins at the cell surface prevents Th17-mediated autoimmunity

U Buehler, K Schulenburg, H Yurugi, Maja Solman, Daniel Abankwa, A Ulges, S Tenzer, T Bopp, B Thiede, F Zipp, K Rajalingam

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17 Citations (Scopus)


T helper (Th)17 cells represent a unique subset of CD4(+) T cells and are vital for clearance of extracellular pathogens including bacteria and fungi. However, Th17 cells are also involved in orchestrating autoimmunity. By employing quantitative surface proteomics, we found that the evolutionarily conserved prohibitins (PHB1/2) are highly expressed on the surface of both murine and human Th17 cells. Increased expression of PHBs at the cell surface contributed to enhanced CRAF/MAPK activation in Th17 cells. Targeting surface-expressed PHBs on Th17 cells with ligands such as Vi polysaccharide (Typhim vaccine) inhibited CRAF-MAPK pathway, reduced interleukin (IL)-17 expression and ameliorated disease pathology with an increase in FOXP3(+)-expressing Tregs in an animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS). Interestingly, we detected a CD4(+) T cell population with high PHB1 surface expression in blood samples from MS patients in comparison with age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Our observations suggest a pivotal role for the PHB-CRAF-MAPK signalling axis in regulating the polarization and pathogenicity of Th17 cells and unveil druggable targets in autoimmune disorders such as MS.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • CRAF
  • FOXP3
  • prohibitins
  • MAPK

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