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A single-cell transcriptional gradient in human cutaneous memory T cells restricts Th17/Tc17 identity


The homeostatic mechanisms that fail to restrain chronic tissue inflammation in diseases, such as psoriasis vulgaris, remain incompletely understood. We profiled transcriptomes and epitopes of single psoriatic and normal skin-resident T cells, revealing a gradated transcriptional program of coordinately regulated inflammation-suppressive genes. This program, which is sharply suppressed in lesional skin, strikingly restricts Th17/Tc17 cytokine and other inflammatory mediators on the single-cell level. CRISPR-based deactivation of two core components of this inflammation-suppressive program, ZFP36L2 and ZFP36, replicates the interleukin-17A (IL-17A), granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interferon gamma (IFNγ) elevation in psoriatic memory T cells deficient in these transcripts, functionally validating their influence. Combinatoric expression analysis indicates the suppression of specific inflammatory mediators by individual program members. Finally, we find that therapeutic IL-23 blockade reduces Th17/Tc17 cell frequency in lesional skin but fails to normalize this inflammatory-suppressive program, suggesting how treated lesions may be primed for recurrence after withdrawal of treatment.

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