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This article is the author's final published version in Frontiers in Immunology, Volume 13, July 2022, Article number 912583.

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Copyright © 2022 Rasouli, Casella, Zhang, Xiao, Kumar, Fortina, Zhang, Ciric and Rostami.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


GM-CSF-producing T helper (Th) cells play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Recent studies have identified a distinct population of GM-CSF-producing Th cells, named ThGM cells, that also express cytokines TNF, IL-2, and IL-3, but lack expression of master transcription factors (TF) and signature cytokines of commonly recognized Th cell lineages. ThGM cells are highly encephalitogenic in a mouse model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Similar to Th17 cells, in response to IL-12, ThGM cells upregulate expression of T-bet and IFN-γ and switch their phenotype to Th1. Here we show that in addition to T-bet, TF RUNX3 also contributes to the Th1 switch of ThGM cells. T-bet-deficient ThGM cells in the CNS of mice with EAE had low expression of RUNX3, and knockdown of RUNX3 expression in ThGM cells abrogated the Th1-inducing effect of IL-12. Comparison of ThGM and Th1 cell transcriptomes showed that ThGM cells expressed a set of TFs known to inhibit the development of other Th lineages. Lack of expression of lineage-specific cytokines and TFs by ThGM cells, together with expression of TFs that inhibit the development of other Th lineages, suggests that ThGM cells are a non-polarized subset of Th cells with lineage characteristics.

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