Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling Cell Intrinsically Inhibits Intestinal Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cell Function

Shiyang Li, John W. Bostick, Jian Ye, Ju Qiu, Bin Zhang, Joseph F. Urban, Dorina Avram, Liang Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are important for mucosal immunity. The intestine harbors all ILC subsets, but how these cells are balanced to achieve immune homeostasis and mount appropriate responses during infection remains elusive. Here, we show that aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr) expression in the gut regulates ILC balance. Among ILCs, Ahr is most highly expressed by gut ILC2s and controls chromatin accessibility at the Ahr locus via positive feedback. Ahr signaling suppresses Gfi1 transcription-factor-mediated expression of the interleukin-33 (IL-33) receptor ST2 in ILC2s and expression of ILC2 effector molecules IL-5, IL-13, and amphiregulin in a cell-intrinsic manner. Ablation of Ahr enhances anti-helminth immunity in the gut, whereas genetic or pharmacological activation of Ahr suppresses ILC2 function but enhances ILC3 maintenance to protect the host from Citrobacter rodentium infection. Thus, the host regulates the gut ILC2-ILC3 balance by engaging the Ahr pathway to mount appropriate immunity against various pathogens. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr) promotes ILC3 maintenance and function. Li et al. report that Ahr restricts intestinal ILC2 function in a cell-intrinsic manner, suggesting a central role for gut adaptation of Ahr expression in regulating the ILC2-ILC3 balance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-928.e5
Number of pages1
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018


  • Ahr
  • IL-33
  • ILC
  • ST2
  • chromatin
  • gene expression
  • gut immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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