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LXR alters CD4+ T cell function through direct regulation of glycosphingolipid synthesis

By Kirsty E Waddington, George A Robinson, Beatriz Rubio-Cuesta, Eden Chrifi-Alaoui, Sara Andreone, Kok-Siong Poon, Iveta Ivanova, Lucia Martin-Gutierrez, Dylan M Owen, Elizabeth C Jury, Ines Pineda-Torra

Posted 31 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/721050

The liver X receptor (LXR) is a key transcriptional regulator of cholesterol, fatty acid, and phospholipid metabolism. Dynamic remodeling of immunometabolic pathways, including lipid metabolism, is a crucial step in T cell activation. Here we explored the role of LXR-regulated metabolic processes in primary human CD4+ T cells, and their role in controlling plasma membrane lipids (glycosphingolipids and cholesterol) which strongly influence T cell immune signaling and function. Crucially, we identified the glycosphingolipid biosynthesis enzyme glucosylceramide synthase (UGCG) as a direct transcriptional LXR target. LXR activation by agonist GW3965 or endogenous oxysterol ligands significantly altered the glycosphingolipid:cholesterol balance in the plasma membrane by increasing glycosphingolipid levels and reducing cholesterol. Consequently, LXR activation lowered plasma membrane lipid order (stability), and an LXR antagonist could block this effect. LXR stimulation also reduced lipid order at the immune synapse and accelerated activation of proximal T cell signaling molecules. Ultimately, LXR activation dampened pro-inflammatory T cell function. Finally, compared to responder T cells, regulatory T cells had a distinct pattern of LXR-target gene expression corresponding to reduced lipid order. This suggests LXR-driven lipid metabolism could contribute to functional specialization of these T cell subsets. Overall, we report a novel mode of action for LXR in T cells involving the regulation of glycosphingolipid and cholesterol metabolism, and demonstrate its relevance in modulating T cell function. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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