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Cellular metabolism can orchestrate immune cell function. We previously demonstrated that lipid biosynthesis represents one such gatekeeper to Th17 cell functional state. Utilizing Compass, a transcriptome-based algorithm for prediction of metabolic flux, we constructed a comprehensive metabolic circuitry for Th17 cell function and identified the polyamine pathway as a candidate metabolic node, the flux of which regulates the inflammatory function of T cells. Testing this prediction, we found that expression and activities of enzymes of the polyamine pathway were enhanced in pathogenic Th17 cells and suppressed in regulatory T cells. Perturbation of the polyamine pathway in Th17 cells suppressed canonical Th17 cell cytokines and promoted the expression of Foxp3, accompanied by dramatic shift in transcriptome and epigenome, transitioning Th17 cells into a Treg-like state. Genetic and chemical perturbation of the polyamine pathway resulted in attenuation of tissue inflammation in an autoimmune disease model of central nervous system, with changes in T cell effector phenotype.

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