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1.  Dual Modulation of Type I Interferon Response by Bluetongue Virus 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(18):10792-10802.
Bluetongue virus (BTV) is a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) virus that causes an economically important disease in ruminants. BTV infection is a strong inducer of type I interferon (IFN-I) in multiple cell types. It has been shown recently that BTV and, more specifically, the nonstructural protein NS3 of BTV are able to modulate the IFN-I synthesis pathway. However, nothing is known about the ability of BTV to counteract IFN-I signaling. Here, we investigated the effect of BTV on the IFN-I response pathway and, more particularly, the Janus tyrosine kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription protein (STAT) signaling pathway. We found that BTV infection triggered the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) in A549 cells. However, when BTV-infected cells were stimulated with external IFN-I, we showed that activation of the IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) promoter and expression of ISGs were inhibited. We found that this inhibition involved two different mechanisms that were dependent on the time of infection. After overnight infection, BTV blocked specifically the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of STAT1. This inhibition correlated with the redistribution of STAT1 in regions adjacent to the nucleus. At a later time point of infection, BTV was found to interfere with the activation of other key components of the JAK/STAT pathway and to induce the downregulation of JAK1 and TYK2 protein expression. Overall, our study indicates for the first time that BTV is able to interfere with the JAK/STAT pathway to modulate the IFN-I response.
IMPORTANCE Bluetongue virus (BTV) causes a severe disease in ruminants and has an important impact on the livestock economy in areas of endemicity such as Africa. The emergence of strains, such as serotype 8 in Europe in 2006, can lead to important economic losses due to commercial restrictions and prophylactic measures. It has been known for many years that BTV is a strong inducer of type I interferon (IFN-I) in vitro and in vivo in multiple cell types. However, the ability of BTV to interact with the IFN-I system remains unclear. Here, we report that BTV is able to modulate the IFN-I response by interfering with the Janus tyrosine kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription protein (STAT) signaling pathway. These findings contribute to knowledge of how BTV infection interferes with the host's innate immune response and becomes pathogenic. This will also be important for the design of efficacious vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC4178850  PMID: 25008919
2.  Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of Interferons 
Pharmaceuticals  2010;3(4):1162-1186.
Interferons (IFNs) are class II cytokines that are key components of the innate immune response to virus infection. Three IFN sub-families, type I, II, and III IFNs have been identified in man, Recombinant analogues of type I IFNs, in particular IFNα2 and IFNβ1, have found wide application for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis and remitting relapsing multiple sclerosis respectively. Type II IFN, or IFN gamma, is used principally for the treatment of chronic granulomatous disease, while the recently discovered type III IFNs, also known as IFN lambda or IL-28/29, are currently being evaluated for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. IFNs are in general well tolerated and the most common adverse events observed with IFNα or IFNβ therapy are “flu-like” symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, and myalgia. Prolonged treatment is associated with more serious adverse events including leucopenia, thrombocytopenia, increased hepatic transaminases, and neuropsychiatric effects. Type I IFNs bind to high-affinity cell surface receptors, composed of two transmembrane polypeptides IFNAR1 and IFNAR2, resulting in activation of the Janus kinases Jak1 and Tyk2, phosphorylation and activation of the latent cytoplasmic signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT1) and STAT2, formation of a transcription complex together with IRF9, and activation of a specific set of genes that encode the effector molecules responsible for mediating the biological activities of type I IFNs. Systemic administration of type I IFN results in activation of IFN receptors present on essentially all types of nucleated cells, including neurons and hematopoietic stem cells, in addition to target cells. This may well explain the wide spectrum of IFN associated toxicities. Recent reports suggest that certain polymorphisms in type I IFN signaling molecules are associated with IFN-induced neutropenia and thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic hepatitis C. IFNγ binds to a cell-surface receptor composed of two transmembrane polypeptides IFGR1 and IFGR2 resulting in activation of the Janus kinases Jak1 and Jak2, phosphorylation of STAT1, formation of STAT1 homodimers, and activation of a specific set of genes that encode the effector molecules responsible for mediating its biological activity. In common with type I IFNs, IFNγ receptors are ubiquitous and a number of the genes activated by IFNγ are also activated by type I IFNs that may well account for a spectrum of toxicities similar to that associated with type I IFNs including “flu-like” symptoms, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased hepatic transaminases. Although type III IFNs share the major components of the signal transduction pathway and activate a similar set of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) as type I IFNs, distribution of the IFNλ receptor is restricted to certain cell types suggesting that IFNλ therapy may be associated with a reduced spectrum of toxicities relative to type I or type II IFNs. Repeated administration of recombinant IFNs can cause in a break in immune tolerance to self-antigens in some patients resulting in the production of neutralizing antibodies (NABs) to the recombinant protein homologue. Appearance of NABs is associated with reduced pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and a reduced clinical response. The lack of cross-neutralization of IFNβ by anti-IFNα NABs and vice versa, undoubtedly accounts for the apparent lack of toxicity associated with the presence of anti-IFN NABs with the exception of relatively mild infusion/injection reactions.
PMCID: PMC4034027
cytokines; interferons; interleukins; innate immunity; Toll-like receptors
3.  A Novel Small Molecule Inhibitor of Influenza A Viruses that Targets Polymerase Function and Indirectly Induces Interferon 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002668.
Influenza viruses continue to pose a major public health threat worldwide and options for antiviral therapy are limited by the emergence of drug-resistant virus strains. The antiviral cytokine, interferon (IFN) is an essential mediator of the innate immune response and influenza viruses, like many viruses, have evolved strategies to evade this response, resulting in increased replication and enhanced pathogenicity. A cell-based assay that monitors IFN production was developed and applied in a high-throughput compound screen to identify molecules that restore the IFN response to influenza virus infected cells. We report the identification of compound ASN2, which induces IFN only in the presence of influenza virus infection. ASN2 preferentially inhibits the growth of influenza A viruses, including the 1918 H1N1, 1968 H3N2 and 2009 H1N1 pandemic strains and avian H5N1 virus. In vivo, ASN2 partially protects mice challenged with a lethal dose of influenza A virus. Surprisingly, we found that the antiviral activity of ASN2 is not dependent on IFN production and signaling. Rather, its IFN-inducing property appears to be an indirect effect resulting from ASN2-mediated inhibition of viral polymerase function, and subsequent loss of the expression of the viral IFN antagonist, NS1. Moreover, we identified a single amino acid mutation at position 499 of the influenza virus PB1 protein that confers resistance to ASN2, suggesting that PB1 is the direct target. This two-pronged antiviral mechanism, consisting of direct inhibition of virus replication and simultaneous activation of the host innate immune response, is a unique property not previously described for any single antiviral molecule.
Author Summary
Influenza viruses are rapidly developing resistance against available anti-influenza drugs and consequently there is an urgent demand for new treatment approaches. We identified compound ASN2 in a high-throughput screen for molecules that are capable of inducing the antiviral cytokine interferon (IFN) in the presence of influenza virus infection. Normally, influenza virus blocks IFN production, an activity that is dependent on the viral NS1 protein and contributes to the ability of the virus to cause disease in an infected host. We show that ASN2 is a potent inhibitor of influenza A virus and can partially protect infected animals from disease and death. ASN2 acts by targeting influenza virus polymerase function which results in inhibition of virus replication, and as a consequence, NS1 expression. Thus the ability of ASN2 to induce IFN is a “side-effect”, albeit a desirable one, of polymerase inhibition. This combination of directly inhibiting the virus while also stimulating the host immune response is a novel property for an antiviral compound.
PMCID: PMC3343121  PMID: 22577360
4.  Type III Interferon Induces Distinct SOCS1 Expression Pattern that Contributes to Delayed but Prolonged Activation of Jak/STAT Signaling Pathway: Implications for Treatment Non-Response in HCV Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133800.
Suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) has long been thought to block type I interferon signaling. However, IFN-λ, a type III IFN with limited receptor expression in hepatic cells, efficiently inhibits HCV (Hepatitis C virus) replication in vivo with potentially less side effects than IFN-α. Previous studies demonstrated that type I and type III activated Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (Jak/STAT) signaling pathway differently, with delayed but prolonged activation by IFN-λ stimulation compared to IFNα/β. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this observation is not well understood. Here, we found that there are distinct differences in SOCS1 expression patterns in Huh-7.5.1 cells following stimulation with IFN-α and IFN-λ. IFN-λ induced a faster but shorter expression of SOCS1. Furthermore, we confirmed that SOCS1 over-expression abrogates anti-HCV effect of both IFN-α and IFN-λ, leading to increased HCV RNA replication in both HCV replicon cells and JFH1 HCV culture system. In line with this, SOCS1 over-expression inhibited STAT1 phosphorylation, attenuated IFN-stimulated response elements (ISRE) reporter activity, and blocked IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) expression. Finally, we measured SOCS1 mRNA expression levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with or without IFN-α treatment from 48 chronic hepatitis C patients and we found the baseline SOCS1 expression levels are higher in treatment non-responders than in responders before IFN-α treatment. Taken together, SOCS1 acts as a suppressor for both type I and type III IFNs and is negatively associated with sustained virological response (SVR) to IFN-based therapy in patients with HCV. More importantly, faster but shorter induction of SOCS1 by IFN-λ may contribute to delayed but prolonged activation of IFN signaling and ISG expression kinetics by type III IFN.
PMCID: PMC4508043  PMID: 26193702
5.  Identification of signalling cascades involved in red blood cell shrinkage and vesiculation 
Bioscience Reports  2015;35(2):e00187.
Even though red blood cell (RBC) vesiculation is a well-documented phenomenon, notably in the context of RBC aging and blood transfusion, the exact signalling pathways and kinases involved in this process remain largely unknown. We have established a screening method for RBC vesicle shedding using the Ca2+ ionophore ionomycin which is a rapid and efficient method to promote vesiculation. In order to identify novel pathways stimulating vesiculation in RBC, we screened two libraries: the Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC) and the Selleckchem Kinase Inhibitor Library for their effects on RBC from healthy donors. We investigated compounds triggering vesiculation and compounds inhibiting vesiculation induced by ionomycin. We identified 12 LOPAC compounds, nine kinase inhibitors and one kinase activator which induced RBC shrinkage and vesiculation. Thus, we discovered several novel pathways involved in vesiculation including G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signalling, the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)–Akt (protein kinase B) pathway, the Jak–STAT (Janus kinase–signal transducer and activator of transcription) pathway and the Raf–MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase)–ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway. Moreover, we demonstrated a link between casein kinase 2 (CK2) and RBC shrinkage via regulation of the Gardos channel activity. In addition, our data showed that inhibition of several kinases with unknown functions in mature RBC, including Alk (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) kinase and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2), induced RBC shrinkage and vesiculation.
After screening two libraries of small bioactive molecules and kinase inhibitors, we identified several signalling pathways to be involved in red blood cell (RBC) shrinkage and vesiculation. These include the Jak (Janus kinase)–STAT (signal transducer and activator of transcription) pathway, phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)–Akt pathway, the Raf–MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase)–ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway and GPCR (G protein-coupled receptor) signalling.
PMCID: PMC4400636  PMID: 25757360
bioactive small molecule; compound screen; kinase inhibitor; red blood cell; vesiculation; AMPK, AMP-activated kinase; ATA, aurintricarboxylic acid; BCR-ABL, breakpoint cluster region protein–Abelson murine leukaemia viral oncogene homologue 1; CaM, calmodulin; CK2, casein kinase 2; Epo, erythropoietin; ERK, extracellular signal-regulated kinase; GPCR, G protein-coupled receptor; Jak, Janus kinase; LOPAC, Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; MEK, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase; NO, nitric oxide; nRTK, non-receptor tyrosine kinase; PC, phosphatidylcholine; PDGFR, platelet-derived growth factor receptor; PI3K, phosphoinositide 3-kinase; PKC, protein kinase C; PLC, phospholipase C; PS, phosphatidylserine; RBC, red blood cell; RTK, receptor tyrosine kinase; SAGM, saline-adenine-glucose-mannitol; SCD, sickle cell disease; SMase, acid sphingomyelinase; STAT, signal transducer and activator of transcription; VEGFR, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor; β-AR, β-adrenergic receptor
6.  Influenza A Virus Inhibits Type I IFN Signaling via NF-κB-Dependent Induction of SOCS-3 Expression 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(11):e1000196.
The type I interferon (IFN) system is a first line of defense against viral infections. Viruses have developed various mechanisms to counteract this response. So far, the interferon antagonistic activity of influenza A viruses was mainly observed on the level of IFNβ gene induction via action of the viral non-structural protein 1 (NS1). Here we present data indicating that influenza A viruses not only suppress IFNβ gene induction but also inhibit type I IFN signaling through a mechanism involving induction of the suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (SOCS-3) protein. Our study was based on the observation that in cells that were infected with influenza A virus and subsequently stimulated with IFNα/β, phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription protein 1 (STAT1) was strongly reduced. This impaired STAT1 activation was not due to the action of viral proteins but rather appeared to be induced by accumulation of viral 5′ triphosphate RNA in the cell. SOCS proteins are potent endogenous inhibitors of Janus kinase (JAK)/STAT signaling. Closer examination revealed that SOCS-3 but not SOCS-1 mRNA levels increase in an RNA- and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)-dependent but type I IFN-independent manner early in the viral replication cycle. This direct viral induction of SOCS-3 mRNA and protein expression appears to be relevant for suppression of the antiviral response since in SOCS-3 deficient cells a sustained phosphorylation of STAT1 correlated with elevated expression of type I IFN-dependent genes. As a consequence, progeny virus titers were reduced in SOCS-3 deficient cells or in cells were SOCS-3 expression was knocked-down by siRNA. These data provide the first evidence that influenza A viruses suppress type I IFN signaling on the level of JAK/STAT activation. The inhibitory effect is at least in part due to the induction of SOCS-3 gene expression, which results in an impaired antiviral response.
Author Summary
The type I interferon (IFN) system is one of the most powerful innate defenses against viral pathogens. Most RNA viruses are sensitive to the action of type I IFN. Therefore, these pathogens have evolved strategies to evade this response. For example, influenza viruses express a viral protein, the non-structural protein 1 (NS1), that suppresses production of IFNβ by lowering cellular sensitivity to viral nucleic acid as a pathogen pattern. Here we present data indicating that influenza A viruses are not only capable of suppressing production of the IFNβ gene but also inhibit action of this antiviral cytokine on cells. This occurs by viral induction of a cellular protein, the suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)-3, a potent endogenous inhibitor of IFN signaling. This is a novel mechanism by which influenza viruses inhibit the antiviral response of the host and paves the path to efficient virus replication. This may be especially relevant for influenza viruses that induce high cytokine responses (cytokine burst), such as highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N1 subtype. Induction of SOCS-3 expression would allow efficient replication despite high IFN and cytokine levels.
PMCID: PMC2572141  PMID: 18989459
7.  Structurally Modified Curcumin Analogs Inhibit STAT3 Phosphorylation and Promote Apoptosis of Human Renal Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40724.
The Janus kinase-2 (Jak2)-signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) pathway is critical for promoting an oncogenic and metastatic phenotype in several types of cancer including renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and melanoma. This study describes two small molecule inhibitors of the Jak2-STAT3 pathway, FLLL32 and its more soluble analog, FLLL62. These compounds are structurally distinct curcumin analogs that bind selectively to the SH2 domain of STAT3 to inhibit its phosphorylation and dimerization. We hypothesized that FLLL32 and FLLL62 would induce apoptosis in RCC and melanoma cells and display specificity for the Jak2-STAT3 pathway. FLLL32 and FLLL62 could inhibit STAT3 dimerization in vitro. These compounds reduced basal STAT3 phosphorylation (pSTAT3), and induced apoptosis in four separate human RCC cell lines and in human melanoma cell lines as determined by Annexin V/PI staining. Apoptosis was also confirmed by immunoblot analysis of caspase-3 processing and PARP cleavage. Pre-treatment of RCC and melanoma cell lines with FLLL32/62 did not inhibit IFN-γ-induced pSTAT1. In contrast to FLLL32, curcumin and FLLL62 reduced downstream STAT1-mediated gene expression of IRF1 as determined by Real Time PCR. FLLL32 and FLLL62 significantly reduced secretion of VEGF from RCC cell lines in a dose-dependent manner as determined by ELISA. Finally, each of these compounds inhibited in vitro generation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. These data support further investigation of FLLL32 and FLLL62 as lead compounds for STAT3 inhibition in RCC and melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3416819  PMID: 22899991
8.  Inhibition of Interferon-Stimulated JAK-STAT Signaling by a Tick-Borne Flavivirus and Identification of NS5 as an Interferon Antagonist 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(20):12828-12839.
The tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) complex of viruses, genus Flavivirus, can cause severe encephalitis, meningitis, and/or hemorrhagic fevers. Effective interferon (IFN) responses are critical to recovery from infection with flaviviruses, and the mosquito-borne flaviviruses can inhibit this response. However, little is known about interactions between IFN signaling and TBE viruses. Langat virus (LGTV), a member of the TBE complex of viruses, was found to be highly sensitive to the antiviral effects of IFN. However, LGTV infection inhibited IFN-induced expression of a reporter gene driven by either IFN-α/β- or IFN-γ-responsive promoters. This indicated that LGTV can inhibit the IFN-mediated JAK-STAT (Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription) pathway of signal transduction. The mechanism of inhibition was due to blocks in the phosphorylation of both Janus kinases, Jak1 and Tyk2, during IFN-α signaling and at least a failure of Jak1 phosphorylation following IFN-γ stimulation. To determine the viral protein(s) responsible, we individually expressed all nonstructural (NS) proteins and examined their ability to inhibit signal transduction. Expression of NS5 alone inhibited STAT1 phosphorylation in response to IFN, thus identifying NS5 as a potential IFN antagonist. Examination of interactions between NS5 and cellular proteins revealed that NS5 associated with IFN-α/β and -γ receptor complexes. Importantly, inhibition of JAK-STAT signaling and NS5-IFN receptor interactions were demonstrated in LGTV-infected human monocyte-derived dendritic cells, important target cells for early virus replication. Because NS5 may interfere with both innate and acquired immune responses to virus infection, this protein may have a significant role in viral pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1235813  PMID: 16188985
9.  Influenza Virus Non-Structural Protein 1 (NS1) Disrupts Interferon Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13927.
Type I interferons (IFNs) function as the first line of defense against viral infections by modulating cell growth, establishing an antiviral state and influencing the activation of various immune cells. Viruses such as influenza have developed mechanisms to evade this defense mechanism and during infection with influenza A viruses, the non-structural protein 1 (NS1) encoded by the virus genome suppresses induction of IFNs-α/β. Here we show that expression of avian H5N1 NS1 in HeLa cells leads to a block in IFN signaling. H5N1 NS1 reduces IFN-inducible tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT1, STAT2 and STAT3 and inhibits the nuclear translocation of phospho-STAT2 and the formation of IFN-inducible STAT1:1-, STAT1:3- and STAT3:3- DNA complexes. Inhibition of IFN-inducible STAT signaling by NS1 in HeLa cells is, in part, a consequence of NS1-mediated inhibition of expression of the IFN receptor subunit, IFNAR1. In support of this NS1-mediated inhibition, we observed a reduction in expression of ifnar1 in ex vivo human non-tumor lung tissues infected with H5N1 and H1N1 viruses. Moreover, H1N1 and H5N1 virus infection of human monocyte-derived macrophages led to inhibition of both ifnar1 and ifnar2 expression. In addition, NS1 expression induces up-regulation of the JAK/STAT inhibitors, SOCS1 and SOCS3. By contrast, treatment of ex vivo human lung tissues with IFN-α results in the up-regulation of a number of IFN-stimulated genes and inhibits both H5N1 and H1N1 virus replication. The data suggest that NS1 can directly interfere with IFN signaling to enhance viral replication, but that treatment with IFN can nevertheless override these inhibitory effects to block H5N1 and H1N1 virus infections.
PMCID: PMC2978095  PMID: 21085662
10.  Impaired Chromatin Remodelling at STAT1-Regulated Promoters Leads to Global Unresponsiveness of Toxoplasma gondii-Infected Macrophages to IFN-γ 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(1):e1002483.
Intracellular pathogens including the apicomplexan and opportunistic parasite Toxoplasma gondii profoundly modify their host cells in order to establish infection. We have shown previously that intracellular T. gondii inhibit up-regulation of regulatory and effector functions in murine macrophages (MΦ) stimulated with interferon (IFN)-γ, which is the cytokine crucial for controlling the parasites' replication. Using genome-wide transcriptome analysis we show herein that infection with T. gondii leads to global unresponsiveness of murine macrophages to IFN-γ. More than 61% and 89% of the transcripts, which were induced or repressed by IFN-γ in non-infected MΦ, respectively, were not altered after stimulation of T. gondii-infected cells with IFN-γ. These genes are involved in a variety of biological processes, which are mostly but not exclusively related to immune responses. Analyses of the underlying mechanisms revealed that IFN-γ-triggered nuclear translocation of STAT1 still occurred in Toxoplasma-infected MΦ. However, STAT1 bound aberrantly to oligonucleotides containing the IFN-γ-responsive gamma-activated site (GAS) consensus sequence. Conversely, IFN-γ did not induce formation of active GAS-STAT1 complexes in nuclear extracts from infected MΦ. Mass spectrometry of protein complexes bound to GAS oligonucleotides showed that T. gondii-infected MΦ are unable to recruit non-muscle actin to IFN-γ-responsive DNA sequences, which appeared to be independent of stimulation with IFN-γ and of STAT1 binding. IFN-γ-induced recruitment of BRG-1 and acetylation of core histones at the IFN-γ-regulated CIITA promoter IV, but not β-actin was diminished by >90% in Toxoplasma-infected MΦ as compared to non-infected control cells. Remarkably, treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors restored the ability of infected macrophages to express the IFN-γ regulated genes H2-A/E and CIITA. Taken together, these results indicate that Toxoplasma-infected MΦ are unable to respond to IFN-γ due to disturbed chromatin remodelling, but can be rescued using histone deacetylase inhibitors.
Author Summary
Toxoplasma gondii is a common unicellular parasite of humans and other vertebrates and can lead to overt disease mostly in immune-suppressed patients or in fetuses. Since IFN-γ is the major mediator of resistance against T. gondii, inhibition of IFN-γ-mediated gene expression may be a crucial mechanism to allow parasite survival in the immune-competent hosts. Here, we used genome-wide expression profiling to show that parasite infection renders murine macrophages globally unresponsive to stimulation with IFN-γ. This results in severe defects of infected macrophages to regulate a variety of immune-related, but also immune-unrelated biological pathways. By analysing the underlying mechanisms, we provide substantial evidence that Toxoplasma interferes with the assembly of chromatin remodelling complexes at IFN-γ-responsive DNA sequences. Furthermore, binding of the transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) to IFN-γ-regulated promoters, but not its nuclear import is disturbed in infected cells. The acetylation of histones at IFN-γ-regulated promoters was found to be severely impaired. Importantly, treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors rescues Toxoplasma-infected macrophages from the inability to respond to IFN-γ. Our study reveals new insights into the evasion of IFN-γ-mediated host immunity by T. gondii, and opens the possibility of a novel intervention strategy against T. gondii by modulating this parasite-host interaction.
PMCID: PMC3262016  PMID: 22275866
11.  An interferon-beta promoter reporter assay for high throughput identification of compounds against multiple RNA viruses 
Antiviral research  2014;107:56-65.
Virus infection of host cells is sensed by innate pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and induces production of type I interferons (IFNs) and other inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines orchestrate the elimination of the viruses but are occasionally detrimental to the hosts. The outcomes and pathogenesis of viral infection are largely determined by the specific interaction between the viruses and their host cells. Therefore, compounds that either inhibit viral infection or modulate virus-induced cytokine response should be considered as candidates for managing virus infection. The aim of the study was to identify compounds in both categories, using a single cell-based assay. Our screening platform is a HEK293 cell-based reporter assay where the expression of a firefly luciferase is under the control of a human IFN-β promoter. We have demonstrated that infection of the reporter cell line with a panel of RNA viruses activated the reporter gene expression that correlates quantitatively with the levels of virus replication and progeny virus production, and could be inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by known antiviral compound or inhibitors of PRR signal transduction pathways. Using Dengue virus as an example, a pilot screening of a small molecule library consisting of 26,900 compounds proved the concept that the IFN-β promoter reporter assay can serve as a convenient high throughput screening platform for simultaneous discovery of antiviral and innate immune response modulating compounds. A representative antiviral compound from the pilot screening, 1-(6-ethoxybenzo[d]thiazol-2-yl)-3-(3-methoxyphenyl) urea, was demonstrated to specifically inhibit several viruses belonging to the family of flaviviridae.
PMCID: PMC4143146  PMID: 24792753
high throughput assay; antiviral; innate immune modulator; dengue virus
Neuro-Oncology  2014;16(Suppl 3):iii31.
BACKGROUND: Glioblastoma represents the most common primary brain tumor, and among the most lethal of cancers. The axis linking receptor tyrosine kinases and phosphatidylinositol 3' kinase to the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is activated in a majority of glioblastomas, suggesting mTOR as a prominent target for therapy. A new class of mTOR kinase inhibitors already in clinical trials disrupts signaling through two mTORC1 translational effectors (S6K and eIF4E) whereas clinical allosteric binders (rapamycin and analogues) disrupt only S6K. METHODS: We tested three distinct mTOR kinase inhibitors (KU63794, PP242 and the clinical compound MLN128) against glioma cell lines and primary cultures wild-type or mutant at PTEN. We used viability assays, flow cytometry, western blotting, as well as convection enhanced delivery and gavage to test agents in glioblastoma. RESULTS: All agents blocked viability in a dose dependent manner. PP242 uniquely induced apoptosis. Cell based screening suggested Janus Kinase 2 (JAK2) and protein kinase C alpha (PKCa) as prominent off-targets for PP242. We validated both off-targets. To determine whether these targets contributed to apoptosis, we combined inhibition or knockdown of JAK2 and PKCa. Blocking both kinases drove apoptosis, associated with reduced phosphorylation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3). Apoptosis was abrogated by inhibition of mTOR. The EGFR inhibitors erlotinib and lapatanib partially blocked PKC and JAK2. Combining either EGFR inhibitor with a JAK2 inhibitor also drove apoptosis in a PTEN-indepenent manner, associated with blockade of p-STAT3. Current experiments extend this combination in-vivo. CONCLUSIONS: We recently demonstrated that EGFR and EGFRvIII converge to activate STAT signaling in glioblastoma. By dissecting off-target effects underlying the ability of an mTOR kinase inhibitor to drive apoptosis, we identified a combination therapy approach that blocks STAT activation. Use of EGFR and of JAK kinases in combination blocked STAT signaling, and was associated with apoptosis in glioblastoma. Combined therapy with approved JAK and EGFR inhibitors could be translated rapidly to patients. SECONDARY CATEGORY: Tumor Biology.
PMCID: PMC4144577
13.  The benzoxathiolone LYR-71 down-regulates interferon-γ-inducible pro-inflammatory genes by uncoupling tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT-1 in macrophages 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2009;158(8):1971-1981.
Background and purpose:
Benzoxathiolone derivatives have shown anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory potential in acne and psoriatic disorders. However, little is known about the molecular basis for these pharmacological effects. In this study, we decided to investigate the anti-inflammatory actions of a benzoxathiolone derivative LYR-71, 6-methyl-2-propylimino-6,7-dihydro-5H-benzo[1,3]oxathiol-4-one, in interferon (IFN)-γ-activated macrophages.
Experimental approach:
RAW 264.7 macrophages or primary macrophages, derived from bone marrow of C3H/HeJ mice, were stimulated with IFN-γ in the presence of LYR-71. Nitric oxide (NO) or chemokine production was measured by Griess reaction or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RAW 264.7 cells were used to examine the molecular mechanisms of LYR-71 in modulating IFN-γ-induced inflammatory responses.
Key results:
LYR-71 down-regulated IFN-γ-induced transcription of inducible NO synthase, IFN-γ-inducible protein-10 and the monokine induced by IFN-γ genes in macrophages. This effect was mediated by uncoupling tyrosine phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-1 in response to IFN-γ. LYR-71 directly inhibited the in vitro catalytic activity of Janus kinase (JAK)-2. Further, the inhibitory actions of LYR-71 on IFN-γ-induced STAT-1 phosphorylation and NO production were consistently abolished in the presence of peroxyvanadate, implying another target dependent on protein tyrosine phosphatase.
Conclusions and implications:
Taken together, LYR-71 could restrain IFN-γ-induced inflammatory responses through uncoupling the tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT-1, an activation index of JAK–STAT-1 signalling, in macrophages. These results may provide a molecular mechanism underlying anti-inflammatory actions shown by benzoxathiolone derivatives.
PMCID: PMC2807659  PMID: 19922538
benzoxathiolone derivative; anti-inflammatory action; nitric oxide; chemokine; Janus kinase; STAT-1; IFN-γ; macrophages
14.  The antihypertension drug doxazosin suppresses JAK/STATs phosphorylation and enhances the effects of IFN-α/γ-induced apoptosis 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):470-479.
Doxazosin, a commonly prescribed treatment for patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia, serves as an α1-blocker of the adrenergic receptors. In this study, we calculated its effect on the ovarian carcinoma cells. Doxazosin induces dose-dependent growth suppression and is additively activated through IFN-α or IFN-γ stimulation. They both enhanced G1 phase arrest, as well as the activity of caspase-3, and the reduction of cyclin D1 and CDK4 protein levels. Doxazosin growth suppression was abolished either by the Janus family of tyrosine kinase (JAK) or the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) inhibitor treatment. The activity of JAK/STAT was dependent on the level of doxazosin, suggesting a requirement of doxazosin for the activation of JAK/STAT. Furthermore, doxazosin plus IFN-α or doxazosin plus IFN-γ additively suppressed the activation of the JAK/STAT signals through phosphorylation of JAK and STAT, thus affecting the activation of subsequent downstream signaling components PI3K, mTOR, 70S6K, and PKCδ. In vivo study demonstrated that doxazosin significantly suppressed tumor growth in an ovarian cancer cell xenograft mouse model, inducing apoptotic cell death by up-regulating the expression of p53, whereas c-Myc expression was markedly reduced. Our data indicate that doxazosin can modulate the apoptotic effects of IFN-α- and IFN-γ through the JAK/STAT signaling pathways. Collectively, we indicate that this action may be a potent chemotherapeutic property against ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4279443  PMID: 25568671
doxazosin; interferon-α/γ; apoptotic cell death; JAK/STAT activation; cell cycle progression
15.  Acute Alcohol Intake Induces SOCS1 and SOCS3 and Inhibits Cytokine-Induced STAT1 and STAT3 Signaling in Human Monocytes 
Acute alcohol consumption is associated with induction of immuno-inhibitory cytokines and down-regulation of pro-inflammatory responses to various pathogens. We previously reported that alcohol activates janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling leading to IL-10 induction. The JAK-STAT pathway also activates its own negative regulators, suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) 1 and SOCS3. SOCS proteins are inducible inhibitors that negatively regulate STAT3/STAT1 signaling pathways induced by cytokines, IL-6 or IFNs. Here we aimed to explore the effect of acute alcohol on induction of SOCS1/SOCS3 and regulation of STAT3/STAT1 pathways induced by IL-6 or IFNs in human monocytes.
Blood samples from normal volunteers were collected before and 24 hours after consumption of 2 ml vodka/kg body weight. For in vitro experiments human monocytes were pretreated with ethanol (EtOH) followed by stimulation with cytokines; proteins were analyzed by Western blot, nuclear protein binding to DNA by EMSA, and RNA by real time PCR.
Results: Acute in vivo or in vitro alcohol treatment increased both SOCS1 and SOCS3 RNA expression in monocytes. Alcohol treatment resulted in increased STAT3 and STAT1 DNA binding capacity. Activation of both STAT1 and STAT3 has been shown to induce SOCS1/3. We hypothesized that induction of SOCS proteins by alcohol in turn may lead to modulation of cytokine signaling through STAT1 and STAT3. Indeed, we observed significant down-regulation of IL-6-, IFNα- and IFNγ-induced STAT1 DNA binding as well as inhibition of IL-6- and IFNγ-induced STAT3 when alcohol was added to monocytes 3 hours prior to the cytokine stimulation. Consistent with inhibition of IL-6-induced STAT3 DNA binding in alcohol-pretreated cells, the levels of IL-6-dependent genes, MCP-1 and ICAM-1, was reduced after IL-6 stimulation. Similar to EtOH alone, combined EtOH+IL-6 simulation resulted in increased expression of both SOCS3 and SOCS1 genes.
While acute alcohol treatment alone activates STAT1/3 signaling pathways and induces SOCS3 and SOCS1 levels in monocytes, alcohol also leads to down-regulation of IL-6-, IFNα-, and IFNγ-induced signaling via STAT1/STAT3 pathways, likely through excessive SOCS activation.
PMCID: PMC4116614  PMID: 18616672
Toll-Like Receptor 4; Lipopolysacharide (LPS); In Vivo; In Vitro; Ethanol
16.  IFN-γ synergistically enhances LPS signalling in alveolar macrophages from COPD patients and controls by corticosteroid-resistant STAT1 activation 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2012;166(7):2070-2083.
IFN-γ levels are increased in chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD) patients compared with healthy subjects and are further elevated during viral exacerbations. IFN-γ can ‘prime’ macrophages to enhance the response to toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, such as LPS. The aim of this study was to examine the effect IFN-γ on corticosteroid sensitivity in alveolar macrophages (AM).
AM from non-smokers, smokers and COPD patients were stimulated with IFN-γ and/or LPS with or without dexamethasone. IL-6, TNF-α and IFN-γ-induced protein 10 kDa (IP-10) levels were measured by elisa, and Western blots were used to investigate the IFN-γ-stimulated Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signalling pathway. Real-time PCR and flow cytometry were used to investigate TLR levels following IFN-γ treatment.
In all three subject groups, IFN-γ alone had no effect on IL-6 and TNF-α production but enhanced the effects of LPS on these cytokines. In contrast, IFN-γ alone increased the production of IP-10. IFN-γ increased TLR2 and TLR4 expression in AM. Cytokine induction and STAT1 activation by IFN-γ were insensitive to dexamethasone for all groups. The inhibition of JAK and STAT1 repressed all these IFN-γ effects.
Our results demonstrate that IFN-γ–induced STAT-1 signalling is corticosteroid resistant in AMs, and that targeting IFN-γ signalling by JAK inhibitors is a potentially novel anti-inflammatory strategy in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3402772  PMID: 22352763
COPD; alveolar macrophage; IFN-γ priming; corticosteroid insensitivity; JAK/STAT; IP-10; TNF-α; IL-6; toll-like receptors
17.  A highly selective, orally active inhibitor of Janus kinase 2, CEP-33779, ablates disease in two mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis 
Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) is involved in the downstream activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and STAT5 and is responsible for transducing signals for several proinflammatory cytokines involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including interleukin (IL)-6, interferon γ (IFNγ) and IL-12. In this paper, we describe the efficacy profile of CEP-33779, a highly selective, orally active, small-molecule inhibitor of JAK2 evaluated in two mouse models of RA.
Collagen antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA) and collagen type II (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA) were established before the oral administration of a small-molecule JAK2 inhibitor, CEP-33779, twice daily at 10 mg/kg, 30 mg/kg, 55 mg/kg or 100 mg/kg over a period of 4 to 8 weeks.
Pharmacodynamic inhibition of JAK2 reduced mean paw edema and clinical scores in both CIA and CAIA models of arthritis. Reduction in paw cytokines (IL-12, IFNγ and tumor necrosis factor α) and serum cytokines (IL-12 and IL-2) correlated with reduced spleen CII-specific T helper 1 cell frequencies as measured by ex vivo IFNγ enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay. Both models demonstrated histological evidence of disease amelioration upon treatment (for example, reduced matrix erosion, subchondral osteolysis, pannus formation and synovial inflammation) and reduced paw phosphorylated STAT3 levels. No changes in body weight or serum anti-CII autoantibody titers were observed in either RA model.
This study demonstrates the utility of using a potent and highly selective, orally bioavailable JAK2 inhibitor for the treatment of RA. Using a selective inhibitor of JAK2 rather than pan-JAK inhibitors avoids the potential complication of immunosuppression while targeting critical signaling pathways involved in autoimmune disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3132063  PMID: 21510883
18.  Interferon- α 2b reduces phosphorylation and activity of MEK and ERK through a Ras / Raf -independent mechanism 
British Journal of Cancer  2000;83(4):532-538.
Interferon (IFN)-α affects the growth, differentiation and function of various cell types by transducing regulatory signals through the Janus tyrosine kinase/signal transducers of activation and transcription (Jak/STAT) pathway. The signalling pathways employing the mitogen-activated ERK-activating kinase (MEK) and the extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) are critical in growth factors signalling. Engagement of the receptors, and subsequent stimulation of Ras and Raf, initiates a phosphorylative cascade leading to activation of several proteins among which MEK and ERK play a central role in routing signals critical in controlling cell development, activation and proliferation. We demonstrate here that 24–48 h following treatment of transformed T- and monocytoid cell lines with recombinant human IFN-α2b both the phosphorylation and activity of MEK1 and its substrates ERK1/2 were reduced. In contrast, the activities of the upstream molecules Ras and Raf -1 were not affected. No effect on MEK/ERK activity was observed upon short-term exposure (1–30 min) to IFN. The anti-proliferative effect of IFN-α was increased by the addition in the culture medium of a specific inhibitor of MEK, namely PD98059. In conclusion, our results indicate that IFN-α regulates the activity of the MEK/ERK pathway and consequently modulates cellular proliferation through a Ras / Raf -independent mechanism. Targeting the MEK/ERK pathway may strengthen the IFN-mediated anti-cancer effect. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2374650  PMID: 10945503
IFN-α; cellular proliferation; MEK/ERK pathway
19.  Identification of a small molecule yeast TORC1 inhibitor with a flow cytometry-based multiplex screen 
ACS Chemical Biology  2012;7(4):715-722.
TOR (target of rapamycin) is a serine/threonine kinase, evolutionarily conserved from yeast to human, which functions as a fundamental controller of cell growth. The moderate clinical benefit of rapamycin in mTOR-based therapy of many cancers favors the development of new TOR inhibitors. Here we report a high throughput flow cytometry multiplexed screen using five GFP-tagged yeast clones that represent the readouts of four branches of the TORC1 signaling pathway in budding yeast. Each GFP-tagged clone was differentially color-coded and the GFP signal of each clone was measured simultaneously by flow cytometry, which allows rapid prioritization of compounds that likely act through direct modulation of TORC1 or proximal signaling components. A total of 255 compounds were confirmed in dose-response analysis to alter GFP expression in one or more clones. To validate the concept of the high throughput screen, we have characterized CID 3528206, a small molecule most likely to act on TORC1 as it alters GFP expression in all five GFP clones in an analogous manner to rapamycin. We have shown that CID 3528206 inhibited yeast cell growth, and that CID 3528206 inhibited TORC1 activity both in vitro and in vivo with EC50s of 150 nM and 3.9 μM, respectively. The results of microarray analysis and yeast GFP collection screen further support the notion that CID 3528206 and rapamycin modulate similar cellular pathways. Together, these results indicate that the HTS has identified a potentially useful small molecule for further development of TOR inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3331904  PMID: 22260433
20.  The anti-HBV effect mediated by a novel recombinant eukaryotic expression vector for IFN-α 
Virology Journal  2013;10:270.
Chronic hepatitis B is a primary cause of liver-related death. Interferon alpha (IFN-α) is able to inhibit the replication of hepadnavirus, and the sustained and stable expression of IFN-α at appropriate level may be beneficial to HBV clearance. With the development of molecular cloning technology, gene therapy plays a more and more important role in clinical practice. In light of the findings, an attempt to investigate the anti-HBV effects mediated by a eukaryotic expression plasmid (pSecTagB-IFN-α) in vitro was carried out.
HBV positive cell line HepG2.2.15 and its parental cell HepG2 were transfected with pSecTagB-IFN-α or empty plasmid by using Lipofectamine™ 2000 reagent. The expression levels of IFN-α were determined by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and ELISA methods. The effects of pSecTagB-IFN-α on HBV mRNA, DNA and antigens were analyzed by real-time fluorescence quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) and ELISA assays. RT-PCR, qRT-PCR and western blot were employed to investigate the influence of pSecTagB-IFN-α on IFN-α-induced signal pathway. Furthermore, through qRT-PCR and ELISA assays, the suppressive effects of endogenously expressed IFN-α and the combination with lamivudine on HBV were also examined.
pSecTagB-IFN-α could express efficiently in hepatoma cells, and then inhibited HBV replication, characterized by the decrease of HBV S gene (HBs) and HBV C gene (HBc) mRNA, the reduction of HBV DNA load, and the low contents of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg). Mechanism research showed that the activation of Janus kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signal pathway, the up-regulation of IFN-α-induced antiviral effectors and double-stranded (ds) RNA sensing receptors by delivering pSecTagB-IFN-α, could be responsible for these phenomena. Furthermore, pSecTagB-IFN-α vector revealed effectively anti-HBV effect than exogenously added IFN-α. Moreover, lamivudine combined with endogenously expressed IFN-α exhibited stronger anti-HBV effect than with exogenous IFN-α.
Our results showed that endogenously expressed IFN-α can effectively and persistently inhibit HBV replication in HBV infected cells. These observations opened a promising way to design new antiviral genetic engineering drugs based on IFN-α.
PMCID: PMC3766191  PMID: 23984795
HBV; IFN-α; Eukaryotic expression vector
21.  miR-19a: An Effective Regulator of SOCS3 and Enhancer of JAK-STAT Signalling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69090.
Suppressors of cytokine signalling (SOCS) proteins are classic inhibitors of the Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT) pathway. Many cytokines and pathogenic mediators induce expression of SOCS, which act in a negative feedback loop to inhibit further signal transduction. SOCS mRNA expression is regulated by DNA binding of STAT proteins, however, their post-transcriptional regulation is poorly understood. microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that bind to complementary sequences on target mRNAs, often silencing gene expression. miR-19a has been shown to regulate SOCS1 expression during mutiple myeloma and be induced by the anti-viral cytokine interferon-(IFN)-α, suggesting a role in the regulation of the JAK-STAT pathway. This study aimed to identify targets of miR-19a in the JAK-STAT pathway and elucidate the functional consequences. Bioinformatic analysis identified highly conserved 3’UTR miR-19a target sequences in several JAK-STAT associated genes, including SOCS1, SOCS3, SOCS5 and Cullin (Cul) 5. Functional studies revealed that miR-19a significantly decreased SOCS3 mRNA and protein, while a miR-19a antagomir specifically reversed its inhibitory effect. Furthermore, miR-19a-mediated reduction of SOCS3 enhanced IFN-α and interleukin (IL)-6 signal transduction through STAT3. These results reveal a novel mechanism by which miR-19a may augment JAK-STAT signal transduction via control of SOCS3 expression and are fundamental to the understanding of inflammatory regulation.
PMCID: PMC3718810  PMID: 23894411
22.  Inhibition of the signalling kinase JAK3 alleviates inflammation in monoarthritic rats 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2011;164(1):106-118.
Many cytokines associated with autoimmune disorders and inflammation have been shown to activate the signalling kinase JAK3, implying that JAK3 plays key roles in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Therefore, investigating the alterations of JAK3 activity and the efficacy of selective JAK3 antagonists in animal models of such disorders is essential to a better understanding of the biology of JAK3 and to assess the potential clinical benefits of JAK3 inhibitors.
Through high-throughput cell-based screening using the NCI compound library, we identified NSC163088 (berberine chloride) as a novel inhibitor of JAK3. Specificity and efficacy of this compound were investigated in both cellular and animal models.
We show that berberine chloride has selectivity for JAK3 over other JAK kinase members, as well as over other oncogenic kinases such as Src, in various cellular assays. Biochemical and modelling studies strongly suggested that berberine chloride bound directly to the kinase domain of JAK3. Also phospho-JAK3 levels were significantly increased in the synovial tissues of rat joints with acute inflammation, and the treatment of these rats with berberine chloride decreased JAK3 phosphorylation and suppressed the inflammatory responses.
The up-regulation of JAK3/STATs was closely correlated with acute arthritic inflammation and that inhibition of JAK3 activity by JAK3 antagonists, such as berberine chloride, alleviated the inflammation in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3171864  PMID: 21434883
JAK; STAT; inflammation; small molecule inhibitor, berberine, IL-2, IL-3
23.  Blocking of Interferon-Induced Jak-Stat Signaling by Japanese Encephalitis Virus NS5 through a Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase-Mediated Mechanism 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(12):5908-5918.
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus that causes severe human disease, has been shown to block the interferon (IFN)-induced Janus kinase signal transducer and activation of transcription (Jak-Stat) signaling cascade by preventing Tyk2 tyrosine phosphorylation and Stat activation. In this study, we demonstrate that expression of the JEV nonstructural protein NS5 readily blocked IFN-stimulated Jak-Stat signaling events such as Stat1 nuclear translocation and tyrosine phosphorylation of Tyk2 and Stat1. The region of JEV NS5 responsible for Stat1 suppression was identified using various deletion clones. Deletion of 83 N-terminal residues of JEV NS5, but not the 143 C-terminal residues, abolished its ability to block IFN-stimulated Stat1 activation. The role of JEV NS5 as an IFN antagonist was further demonstrated by its ability to block the induction of interferon-stimulated genes and the antiviral effect of IFN-α against the IFN-sensitive encephalomyocarditis virus, which appears to replicate and kill cells that express NS5 even with alpha IFN treatment. Furthermore, the molecular mechanism responsible for IFN antagonism by NS5 probably involves protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), as the IFN-blocking events in both JEV-infected and NS5-expressing cells were reversed by sodium orthovanadate, a broad-spectrum inhibitor of PTPs. We suggest that JEV NS5 is an IFN antagonist and that it may play a role in blocking IFN-stimulated Jak-Stat signaling via activation of PTPs during JEV infection.
PMCID: PMC1472572  PMID: 16731929
24.  Beta Interferon-Mediated Activation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription Protein 1 Interferes with Rickettsia conorii Replication in Human Endothelial Cells ▿  
Infection and Immunity  2011;79(9):3733-3743.
Infection of the endothelial cell lining of blood vessels with Rickettsia conorii, the causative agent of Mediterranean spotted fever, results in endothelial activation. We investigated the effects of R. conorii infection on the status of the Janus kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription protein (STAT) signaling pathway in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMECs), the most relevant host cell type, in light of rickettsial tropism for microvascular endothelium in vivo. R. conorii infection induced phosphorylation of STAT1 on tyrosine 701 and serine 727 at 24, 48, and 72 h postinfection in HMECs. Employing transcription profile analysis and neutralizing antibodies, we further determined that beta interferon (IFN-β) production and secretion are critical for STAT1 activation. Secreted IFN-β further amplified its own expression via a positive-feedback mechanism, while expression of transcription factors interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) and IRF9, implicated in the IFN-β–STAT1 feedback loop, was also induced. Metabolic activity of rickettsiae was essential for the IFN-β-mediated response(s) because tetracycline treatment inhibited R. conorii replication, IFN-β expression, and STAT1 phosphorylation. Inclusion of IFN-β-neutralizing antibody during infection resulted in significantly enhanced R. conorii replication, whereas addition of exogenous IFN-β had the opposite inhibitory effect. Finally, small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown further confirmed a protective role for STAT1 against intracellular R. conorii replication. In concert, these findings implicate an important role for IFN-β-mediated STAT1 activation in innate immune responses of vascular endothelium to R. conorii infection.
PMCID: PMC3165482  PMID: 21690236
25.  Alpha/Beta Interferon and Gamma Interferon Synergize To Inhibit the Replication of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(22):11541-11550.
In vivo evidence suggests that T-cell-derived gamma interferon (IFN-γ) can directly inhibit the replication of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). However, IFN-γ is a weak inhibitor of HSV-1 replication in vitro. We have found that IFN-γ synergizes with the innate IFNs (IFN-α and -β) to potently inhibit HSV-1 replication in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of Vero cells with either IFN-β or IFN-γ inhibits HSV-1 replication by <20-fold, whereas treatment with both IFN-β and IFN-γ inhibits HSV-1 replication by ∼1,000-fold. Treatment with IFN-β and IFN-γ does not prevent HSV-1 entry into Vero cells, and the inhibitory effect can be overcome by increasing the multiplicity of HSV-1 infection. The capacity of IFN-β and IFN-γ to synergistically inhibit HSV-1 replication is not virus strain specific and has been observed in three different cell types. For two of the three virus strains tested, IFN-β and IFN-γ inhibit HSV-1 replication with a potency that approaches that achieved by a high dose of acyclovir. Pretreatment of mouse eyes with IFN-β and IFN-γ reduces HSV-1 replication to nearly undetectable levels, prevents the development of disease, and reduces the latent HSV-1 genome load per trigeminal ganglion by ∼200-fold. Thus, simultaneous activation of IFN-α/β receptors and IFN-γ receptors appears to render cells highly resistant to the replication of HSV-1. Because IFN-α or IFN-β is produced by most cells as an innate response to virus infection, the results imply that IFN-γ secreted by T cells may provide a critical second signal that potently inhibits HSV-1 replication in vivo.
PMCID: PMC136787  PMID: 12388715

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