Loss of aryl hydrocarbon receptor suppresses the response of colonic epithelial cells to IL22 signaling by upregulating SOCS3. Academic Article uri icon


  • IL22 signaling plays an important role in maintaining gastrointestinal epithelial barrier function, cell proliferation, and protection of intestinal stem cells from genotoxicants. Emerging studies indicate that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated transcription factor, promotes production of IL22 in gut immune cells. However, it remains to be determined if AhR signaling can also affect the responsiveness of colonic epithelial cells to IL22. Here, we show that IL22 treatment induces the phosphorylation of STAT3, inhibits colonic organoid growth, and promotes colonic cell proliferation in vivo. Notably, intestinal cell-specific AhR knockout (KO) reduces responsiveness to IL22 and compromises DNA damage response after exposure to carcinogen, in part due to the enhancement of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) expression. Deletion of SOCS3 increases levels of pSTAT3 in AhR KO organoids, and phenocopies the effects of IL22 treatment on wild-type (WT) organoid growth. In addition, pSTAT3 levels are inversely associated with increased azoxymethane/dextran sulfate sodium (AOM/DSS)-induced colon tumorigenesis in AhR KO mice. These findings indicate that AhR function is required for optimal IL22 signaling in colonic epithelial cells and provide rationale for targeting AhR as a means of reducing colon cancer risk.NEW & NOTEWORTHY AhR is a key transcription factor controlling expression of IL22 in gut immune cells. In this study, we show for the first time that AhR signaling also regulates IL22 response in colonic epithelial cells by modulating SOCS3 expression.

published proceedings

  • Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol

altmetric score

  • 7.3

author list (cited authors)

  • Han, H., Davidson, L. A., Fan, Y., Landrock, K. K., Jayaraman, A., Safe, S. H., & Chapkin, R. S.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Han, Huajun||Davidson, Laurie A||Fan, Yang-Yi||Landrock, Kerstin K||Jayaraman, Arul||Safe, Stephen H||Chapkin, Robert S

publication date

  • January 2022