The mechanisms underlying the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) resistance to interferon alpha (IFN-α) are not fully understood. We used IFN-α resistant HCV replicon cell lines and an infectious HCV cell culture system to elucidate the mechanisms of IFN-α resistance in cell culture. The IFN-α resistance mechanism of the replicon cells were addressed by a complementation study that utilized the full-length plasmid clones of IFN-α receptor 1 (IFNAR1), IFN-α receptor 2 (IFNAR2), Jak1, Tyk2, Stat1, Stat2 and the ISRE- luciferase reporter plasmid. We demonstrated that the expression of the full-length IFNAR1 clone alone restored the defective Jak-Stat signaling as well as Stat1, Stat2 and Stat3 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation and antiviral response against HCV in all IFN-α resistant cell lines (R-15, R-17 and R-24) used in this study. Moreover RT-PCR, Southern blotting and DNA sequence analysis revealed that the cells from both R-15 and R-24 series of IFN-α resistant cells have 58 amino acid deletions in the extracellular sub domain 1 (SD1) of IFNAR1. In addition, cells from the R-17 series have 50 amino acids deletion in the sub domain 4 (SD4) of IFNAR1 protein leading to impaired activation of Tyk2 kinase. Using an infectious HCV cell culture model we show here that viral replication in the infected Huh-7 cells is relatively resistant to exogenous IFN-α. HCV infection itself induces defective Jak-Stat signaling and impairs Stat1 and Stat2 phosphorylation by down regulation of the cell surface expression of IFNAR1 through the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress mechanisms. The results of this study suggest that expression of cell surface IFNAR1 is critical for the response of HCV to exogenous IFN-α.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV); Interferon alpha (IFN-α); Interferon alpha-receptor 1 (IFNAR1); Jak-Stat signaling; nuclear translocation; reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR); HCV infection; ER stress
Type I interferons (IFNs) are important mediators of innate antiviral defense and function by activating a signaling pathway through their cognate type I receptor (IFNAR). Here we report that lytic replication of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) efficiently blocks type I IFN signaling and that an important effector of this blockade is the viral protein RIF, the product of open reading frame 10. RIF blocks IFN signaling by formation of inhibitory complexes that contain IFNAR subunits, the Janus kinases Jak1 and Tyk2, and the STAT2 transcription factor. Activation of both Tyk2 and Jak1 is inhibited, and abnormal recruitment of STAT2 to IFNAR1 occurs despite the decrement in Tyk2 activity. As a result of these actions, phosphorylation of both STAT2 and STAT1 is impaired, with subsequent failure of ISGF3 accumulation in the nucleus. The presence in the viral genome of potent inhibitors of type I IFN signaling, along with several viral genes that block IFN induction, highlights the importance of the IFN pathway in the control of this human tumor virus infection.
Ligand-specific negative regulation of cytokine-induced signaling relies on down regulation of the cytokine receptors. Down regulation of the IFNAR1 sub-unit of the Type I interferon (IFN) receptor proceeds via lysosomal receptor proteolysis, which is triggered by ubiquitination that depends on IFNAR1 serine phosphorylation. While IFN-inducible phosphorylation, ubiquitination and degradation requires the catalytic activity of the Tyk2 Janus kinase, here we found the ligand- and Tyk2-independent pathway that promotes IFNAR1 phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and degradation when IFNAR1 is expressed at high levels. A major cellular kinase activity that is responsible for IFNAR1 phosphorylation in vitro does not depend on either ligand or Tyk2 activity. Inhibition of ligand-independent IFNAR1 degradation suppresses cell proliferation. We discuss the signaling events that might lead to ubiquitination and degradation of IFNAR1 via ligand-dependent and independent pathways and their potential physiologic significance.
cytokine; interferon; receptor; ubiquitination; degradation
Phosphorylation of the degron of the IFNAR1 chain of the type I interferon (IFN) receptor triggers ubiquitination and degradation of this receptor and, therefore, plays a crucial role in negative regulation of IFN-α/β signaling. Besides the IFN-stimulated and Jak activity-dependent pathways, a basal ligand-independent phosphorylation of IFNAR1 has been described and implicated in downregulating IFNAR1 in response to virus-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Here we report purification and characterization of casein kinase 1α (CK1α) as a bona fide major IFNAR1 kinase that confers basal turnover of IFNAR1 and cooperates with ER stress stimuli to mediate phosphorylation-dependent degradation of IFNAR1. Activity of CK1α was required for phosphorylation and downregulation of IFNAR1 in response to ER stress and viral infection. While many forms of CK1 were capable of phosphorylating IFNAR1 in vitro, human CK1α and L-CK1 produced by the protozoan Leishmania major were also capable of increasing IFNAR1 degron phosphorylation in cells. Expression of leishmania CK1 in mammalian cells stimulated the phosphorylation-dependent downregulation of IFNAR1 and attenuated its signaling. Infection of mammalian cells with L. major modestly decreased IFNAR1 levels and attenuated cellular responses to IFN-α in vitro. We propose a role for mammalian and parasite CK1 enzymes in regulating IFNAR1 stability and type I IFN signaling.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is diagnosed by a spectrum of clinical manifestations and autoantibodies associated with abnormal expression of Type I interferon (IFN-I) stimulated genes (ISGs). The role of IFN-I in the pathogenesis of SLE remains uncertain, partly due to the lack of suitable animal models. The objective of this study was to examine the role of IFN-I signaling in the pathogenesis of murine lupus induced by 2, 6, 10, 14 tetramethylpentadecane (TMPD).
129Sv IFN-I receptor deficient (IFNAR−/−) and control 129Sv mice were treated i.p. with TMPD. The expression of ISGs was measured by real-time PCR. Autoantibody production was evaluated by immunofluorescence and ELISA. Proteinuria and renal glomerular cellularity were measured and renal immune complexes were examined by immunofluorescence.
Increased ISG expression was seen in peripheral blood of TMPD-treated wild type but not IFNAR−/− mice. TMPD did not induce lupus-specific autoantibodies (anti-nRNP/Sm, -dsDNA) in IFNAR−/− mice, whereas 129Sv controls developed these specificities. Although glomerular immune complexes were present in IFNAR−/− mice, proteinuria and glomerular hypercellularity did not develop, unlike TMPD-treated controls. Thus, consistent with the association of increased ISG expression with lupus-specific autoantibodies, and nephritis in humans, these clinical and serological manifestations were strongly dependent on IFNAR signaling in TMPD-treated mice.
Signaling via the IFNAR is central to the pathogenesis of autoantibodies and glomerulonephritis in TMPD-lupus, consistent with a similar role in human SLE. TMPD-lupus is the first animal model shown to recapitulate the interferon signature in peripheral blood.
We demonstrate for the first time in vertebrates, that alternative splicing of interferon (IFN) genes can lead to a functional intracellular IFN (iIFN). Fish IFN genes possess introns and in rainbow trout three alternatively spliced transcripts of the IFN1 gene exist. Two of the encoded IFNs are predicted to lack a signal peptide. When overexpressed these iIFNs induce antiviral responses. Variants of the two IFNR receptor chains (IFNAR1 and IFNAR2) lacking a signal peptide are also present in trout. Transfection of HEK 293T cells with the iIFN and iIFNR molecules results in STAT phosphorylation and induction of antiviral genes. These results show that fish possess a functioning iIFN system that may act as a novel defence to combat viral infection.
The type I interferon (IFN) family consists of multiple members which are encoded by intronless genes in reptiles, birds and mammals but intron-containing genes in amphibians and fish. They coordinate antiviral defence by binding to cell surface receptors. Here, we demonstrate for the first time in vertebrates, that intracellular IFNs can be produced from alternatively spliced IFN transcripts and are able to elicit cellular responses through intracellular IFN receptors. This functional intracellular IFN system in fish may play a significant role in activating antiviral pathways in cells infected with virus or in neighbouring cells, and represents a novel defence to combat viral pathogens.
Binding of alpha interferon (IFNalpha) to its receptors induces rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of the receptor subunits IFNaR1 and IFNaR2, the TYK2 and JAK1 tyrosine kinases, and the Stat1 and Stat2 transcription factors. Previous studies have demonstrated that TYK2 directly and specifically binds to and tyrosine phosphorylates IFNaR1 in vitro. We now report a detailed analysis of the TYK2 binding domain on the IFNaR1 subunit. First, we used an in vitro binding assay to identify the TYK2 binding motif in IFNaR1 as well as the critical residues within this region. The most striking feature is the importance of a number of hydrophobic and acidic residues. A minor role is also ascribed to a region resembling the proline-rich "box 1" sequence. In addition, mutations which disrupt in vitro binding also disrupt the coimmunoprecipitation of the receptor and TYK2. We also provide direct evidence that the binding region is both necessary and sufficient to activate TYK2 in vivo. Specifically, mutations in the binding domain act in a dominant-negative fashion to inhibit the IFNalpha-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of TYK2 and Stat2. Further, introduction of dimerized glutathione S-transferase-IFNaR1 fusion proteins into permeabilized cells is sufficient to induce phosphorylation of TYK2 and the receptor, confirming the role of the binding domain in IFNalpha signal transduction. These studies provide clues to the sequences determining the specificity of the association between JAK family tyrosine kinases and cytokine receptors as well as the functional role of these kinases in cytokine signal transduction.
Interferon alpha (IFNα) is widely used for treatment of melanoma and certain other malignancies. This cytokine as well as the related IFNβ exerts potent anti-tumorigenic effects; however, their efficacy in patients is often suboptimal. Here we report that inflammatory signaling impedes the effects of IFNα/β. Melanoma cells can secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines that inhibit cellular responses to IFNα/β via activating the ligand-independent pathway for the phosphorylation and subsequent ubiquitination and accelerated degradation of the IFNAR1 chain of Type I IFN receptor. Catalytic activity of the p38 protein kinase was required for IFNAR1 downregulation and inhibition of IFNα/β signaling induced by proinflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin 1 (IL-1). Activation of p38 kinase inversely correlated with protein levels of IFNAR1 in clinical melanoma specimens. Inhibition of p38 kinase augmented the inhibitory effects of IFNα/β on cell viability and growth in vitro and in vivo. The role of inflammation and p38 protein kinase in regulating cellular responses to IFNα/β in normal and tumor cells are discussed.
inflammation; cancer; interferon; receptor; ubiquitin; melanoma
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of high-titer IgG autoantibodies directed against nuclear autoantigens. Type I interferon (IFN-I) has been shown to play a pathogenic role in this disease. In the current study, we characterized the role of the IFNAR2 chain of the type I IFN (IFN-I) receptor in the targeting of nucleic acid-associated autoantigens and in B-cell expression of the nucleic acid-sensing Toll-like receptors (TLRs), TLR7 and TLR9, in the pristane model of lupus.
Wild-type (WT) and IFNAR2-/- mice were treated with pristane and monitored for proteinuria on a monthly basis. Autoantibody production was determined by autoantigen microarrays and confirmed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immunoprecipitation. Serum immunoglobulin isotype levels, as well as B-cell cytokine production in vitro, were quantified by ELISA. B-cell proliferation was measured by thymidine incorporation assay.
Autoantigen microarray profiling revealed that pristane-treated IFNAR2-/- mice lacked autoantibodies directed against components of the RNA-associated autoantigen complexes Smith antigen/ribonucleoprotein (Sm/RNP) and ribosomal phosphoprotein P0 (RiboP). The level of IgG anti-single-stranded DNA and anti-histone autoantibodies in pristane-treated IFNAR2-/- mice was decreased compared to pristane-treated WT mice. TLR7 expression and activation by a TLR7 agonist were dramatically reduced in B cells from IFNAR2-/- mice. IFNAR2-/- B cells failed to upregulate TLR7 as well as TLR9 expression in response to IFN-I, and effector responses to TLR7 and TLR9 agonists were significantly decreased as compared to B cells from WT mice following treatment with IFN-α.
Our studies provide a critical link between the IFN-I pathway and the regulation of TLR-specific B-cell responses in a murine model of SLE.
Increased IFN-α signaling is a primary pathogenic factor in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). STAT4 is a transcription factor that is activated by IFN-α signaling, and genetic variation of STAT4 has been associated with risk of SLE and rheumatoid arthritis. We measured serum IFN-α activity and simultaneous IFN-α-induced gene expression in PBMC in a large SLE cohort. The risk variant of STAT4 (T allele; rs7574865) was simultaneously associated with both lower serum IFN-α activity and greater IFN-α-induced gene expression in PBMC in SLE patients in vivo. Regression analyses confirmed that the risk allele of STAT4 was associated with increased sensitivity to IFN-α signaling. The IFN regulatory factor 5 SLE risk genotype was associated with higher serum IFN-α activity; however, STAT4 showed dominant influence on the sensitivity of PBMC to serum IFN-α. These data provide biologic relevance for the risk variant of STAT4 in the IFN-α pathway in vivo.
Interferon alpha (IFNα) is widely used in treatment of malignant melanoma patients. This cytokine acts on cells by engaging Type I IFN receptor consisting of two subunits, (IFNAR1 and IFNAR2) followed by activation of Janus kinases (Jak). Levels of IFNAR1 (regulated via degradation mediated by the βTrcp E3 ubiquitin ligase) and IFNα signaling were reduced in 1205Lu melanoma cell line that harbors activated BRAF and exhibits high levels of βTrcp ubiquitin ligase. Expression of stabilized IFNAR1 in melanoma cells decreased their tumorigenicity. Furthermore, RNAi-mediated BRAF knockdown and pharmacologic inhibition of either Raf or MEK1 decreased levels of βTrcp and stabilized IFNAR1. However, despite causing stabilization of IFNAR1, Raf inhibitor BAY 43-9006 interfered with cellular responses to IFNα most likely due to its ability to directly inhibit Jak activity. We discuss the implications of this result for combination therapy with BAY 43-9006 and IFNα in melanoma patients.
BRAF; melanoma; interferon alpha; Raf inhibitor; β-Trcp; ubiquitin; BAY 43-9006
Immunoreceptor tyrosine based activation motif (ITAM)-coupled receptors play an essential role in regulating macrophage activation and function by cross-regulating signaling from heterologous receptors. We investigated mechanisms by which ITAM-associated receptors inhibit type I interferon (IFN-α/β) signaling in primary human macrophages and tested the effects of simultaneous ligation of ITAM-associated receptors and TLR4 on TLR4-induced Jak-STAT signaling that is mediated by autocrine IFN-β. Preligation of ITAM-coupled β2 integrins and FcγRs inhibited proximal signaling by the type I IFN receptor IFNAR. Cross-inhibition of IFNAR signaling by β2 integrins resulted in decreased Jak1 activation and was mediated by partial downregulation of the IFNAR1 subunit and MAPK-dependent induction of USP18, which blocks the association of Jak1 with IFNAR2. Simultaneous engagement of ITAM-coupled β2 integrins or Dectin-1 with TLR4 did not affect TLR4-induced direct activation of inflammatory target genes such as TNF or IL6, but abrogated subsequent induction of IFN response genes that is mediated by autocrine IFN-β signaling. Type I IFNs promote macrophage death after infection by Listeria monocytogenes. Consequently, attenuation of IFN responses by β2 integrins protected primary human macrophages from Listeria monocytogenes induced apoptosis. These results provide a mechanism for cross-inhibition of type I IFN signaling by ITAM-coupledβ2 integrins and demonstrate that ITAM signaling qualitatively modulates macrophage responses to PAMPs and pathogens by selectively suppressing IFN responses.
monocytes/macrophages; cytokines; inflammation; TLRs; signal transduction
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV), a leading cause of respiratory tract infections in infants, inhibits type I interferon (IFN) signaling by an unidentified mechanism. In this study, we showed that infection of airway epithelial cells with hMPV decreased cellular level of Janus tyrosine kinase (Jak1) and tyrosine kinase 2 (Tyk2), due to enhanced proteosomal degradation and reduced gene transcription. In addition, hMPV infection also reduced the surface expression of type I IFN receptor (IFNAR). These inhibitory mechanisms are different from the ones employed by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which does not affect Jak1, Tyk2 or IFNAR expression, but degrades downstream signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins 2 (STAT2), although both viruses are pneumoviruses belonging to the Paramyxoviridae family. Our study identifies a novel mechanism by which hMPV inhibits STAT1 and 2 activation, ultimately leading to viral evasion of host IFN responses.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease involving multiple organ systems. Previous studies have suggested that interferon-lambda 1 (IFN-λ1), a type III interferon, plays an immunomodulatory role. In this study we investigated its role in SLE, including its correlation with disease activity, organ disorder and production of chemokines.
We determined levels of IFN-λ1 mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and serum protein levels in patients with SLE using real-time polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR) and enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA). Further, we detected the concentration of IFN-inducible protein-10 (IP-10), monokine induced by IFN-γ (MIG) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) secreted by PBMC under the stimulation of IFN-λ1 using ELISA.
IFN-λ1 mRNA and serum protein levels were higher in patients with SLE compared with healthy controls. Patients with active disease showed higher IFN-λ1 mRNA and serum protein levels compared with those with inactive disease as well. Serum IFN-λ1 levels were positively correlated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), anti-dsDNA antibody, C-reactive protein (CRP) and negatively correlated with complement 3. Serum IFN-λ1 levels were higher in SLE patients with renal involvement and arthritis compared with patients without the above-mentioned manifestations. IFN-λ1 with different concentrations displayed different effects on the secretion of the chemokines IP-10, MIG and IL-8.
These findings indicate that IFN-λ1 is probably involved in the renal disorder and arthritis progression of SLE and associated with disease activity. Moreover, it probably plays an important role in the pathogenesis of SLE by stimulating secretion of the chemokines IP-10, MIG and IL-8. Thus, IFN-λ1 may provide a novel research target for the pathogenesis and therapy of SLE.
All type I interferons (IFNs) bind to a common cell-surface receptor consisting of two subunits. IFNs initiate intracellular signal transduction cascades by simultaneous interaction with the extracellular domains of its receptor subunits IFNAR1 and IFNAR2. In this study we mapped the surface of IFNα2 interacting with the extracellular domain of IFNAR1 (IFNAR1-EC) by following changes in or the disappearance of the [1H,15N]-TROSY-HSQC cross peaks of IFNα2 caused by the binding of the extracellular domain of IFNAR1 (IFNAR1-EC) to the binary complex of IFNα2 with IFNAR2-EC. The NMR study on the 89 kDa complex was conducted at pH 8 and 308 K using an 800 MHz spectrometer. IFNAR1 binding affected a total of 47 out of 165 IFNα2 residues contained in two large patches on the face of the protein opposing the binding site for IFNAR2 and in a third patch located on the face containing the IFNAR2 binding site. The first two patches form the IFNAR1 binding site and one of these matches the IFNAR1 binding site previously identified by site-directed mutagenesis. The third patch partially matches the IFNα2 binding site for IFNAR2-EC indicating allosteric communication between the binding sites for the two receptor subunits.
The antigrowth and immunomodulatory actions of interferons (IFNs) have enabled these cytokines to be used therapeutically for the treatment of a variety of hematologic and solid malignancies. IFNs exert their effects by activation of the Jak/Stat signaling pathway. IFNγ stimulates the tyrosine kinases Jak1 and Jak2, resulting in activation of the Stat1 transcription factor, whereas type 1 IFNs (IFNα/β) activate Jak1 and Tyk2, which mediate their effects through Stat1 and Stat2. Disruption in the expression of IFNγ, IFNα receptors, or Stat1 inhibits antitumor responses and blunt cancer immunosurveillance in mice. Mutations in Jak2 or constitutive activation of Jak1 or Jak2 also promote the development of a variety of malignancies. Although there are data indicating that Tyk2 plays a role in the pathogenesis of lymphomas, the effects of Tyk2 expression on tumorigenesis are unknown. We report here that Tyk2−/− mice inoculated with 4T1 breast cancer cells show enhanced tumor growth and metastasis compared to Tyk2+/+ animals. Accelerated growth of 4T1 cells in Tyk2−/− animals does not appear to be due to decreased function of CD4+, CD8+ T cells, or NK cells. Rather, the tumor suppresive effects of Tyk2 are mediated at least in part by myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which appear to be more effective in inhibiting T cell responses in Tyk2−/− mice. Our results provide the first evidence for a role of Tyk2 in suppressing the growth and metastasis of breast cancer.
Interferon (IFN)-α receptor 1 (ifnar1) and suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (socs1) transcription levels were quantified in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 59 patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and 17 non-infected individuals. Samples were obtained from patients infected with HCV that were either untreated or treated with IFN-α2 plus ribavirin for 1 year and divided into responders and non-responders based on viral load reduction 6 months after treatment. Ifnar1 and socs1 transcription was quantified by real-time RT-PCR, and the fold difference (2-ΔΔCT) with respect to hprt housekeeping gene was calculated.
Ifnar1 transcription increased significantly in HCV-infected patients either untreated (3.26 ± 0.31), responders (3.1 ± 0.23) and non-responders (2.18 ± 0.23) with respect to non-infected individuals (1 ± 0.34; P = 0.005). Ifnar1 transcription increased significantly (P = 0.003) in patients infected with HCV genotypes 1a (4.74 ± 0.25) and 1b (2.81 ± 0.25) but not in 1a1b (1.58 ± 0.21). No association was found of Ifnar1 transcription with disease progress, initial viral load or other clinical factors. With respect to socs1 transcription, values were similar for non-infected individuals (1 ± 0.28) and untreated patients (0.99 ± 0.41) but increased in responders (2.81 ± 0.17) and non-responder patients (1.67 ± 0.41). Difference between responder and non-responder patients was not statistically significant. Socs1 transcription increased in patients infected with HCV genotypes 1a and 1b (2.87 ± 0.45 and 2.22 ± 0.17, respectively) but not in 1a1b (1.28 ± 0.40). Socs1 transcript was absent in three patients infected with HCV genotype 1b. A weak correlation between ifnar1 and socs1 transcription was found, when Spearman's correlation coefficient was calculated.
Our results suggest that HCV infection may up-regulate ifnar1 transcription. HCV genotypes differ in their capacity to affect ifnar1 and socs1 transcription, as well as in the ability to evade the antiviral response.
Two members of the STAT signal transducer and activator of transcription family, STAT1 and STAT2, are rapidly phosphorylated on tyrosine in response to alpha interferon (IFN-alpha). Previous work showed that in the mutant human cell line U6A, which lacks STAT2 and is completely defective in IFN-alpha signaling, the phosphorylation of STAT1 is very weak, revealing that activation of STAT1 depends on STAT2. We now find that STAT2 binds to the cytoplasmic domain of the IFNAR2c (also known as IFNAR2-2) subunit of the IFN-alpha receptor in extracts of untreated cells. STAT1 also binds but only when STAT2 is present. The activities of chimeric STAT2-STAT1 proteins were assayed in U6A cells to define regions required for IFN-alpha signaling. Previous work showed that a point mutation in the Src homology 2 (SH2) domain prevents STAT2 from binding to phosphotyrosine 466 of the IFNAR1 subunit of the activated receptor. However, we now find that the entire SH2 domain of STAT2 can be replaced by that of STAT1 without loss of function, revealing that other regions of STAT2 are required for its specific interaction with the receptor. A chimeric protein, in which the N-terminal third of STAT2 has replaced the corresponding region of STAT1, did preassociate with the IFNAR2c subunit of the receptor, became phosphorylated when IFN-alpha was added, and supported the phosphorylation of endogenous STAT1. These results are consistent with a model in which STAT2 and STAT1 are prebound to the IFNAR2c subunit of the resting receptor. Upon activation, the IFNAR1 subunit is phosphorylated on Tyr-466, allowing the SH2 domain of STAT2 to bind to it; this is followed by the sequential phosphorylation of STAT2 and STAT1.
Type I interferons are potent regulators of innate and adaptive immunity and are implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus. Here we report that clinical and pathological lupus nephritis and serum anti-nuclear antibody levels are greatly attenuated in NZM 2328 mice deficient in type I IFN receptors (IFNAR). To determine if the inflammatory environment in NZM 2328 mice leads to IFNAR-regulated changes in dendritic cells (DC), the number, activation, and function of DC subsets were compared in 2 and 5 month-old (clinically healthy) female NZM and NZM-IFNAR-/- mice. Numbers of activated CD40hi plasmacytoid DC (pDC) were significantly increased in renal lymph nodes of 2 month-old NZM but not NZM-IFNAR-/- mice, suggesting an early IFNAR-dependent expansion and activation of pDC at disease sites. Relative to NZM spleens, NZM-IFNAR-/- spleens in 5 month-old mice were significantly decreased in size and contained reduced numbers of conventional DC (cDC) subsets, but not pDC. Splenic and renal lymph node NZM-IFNAR-/- DC analyzed directly ex vivo expressed significantly less CD40, CD86 and PDL1 than NZM DC. Upon activation with synthetic TLR9 ligands in vitro, splenic NZM-IFNAR-/- DC produced less IL-12p40/70 and TNFα than NZM DC. The limited IFNAR-/- DC response to endogenous activating stimuli correlated with reduced numbers of splenic activated memory CD4+ T cells and CD19+ B cells in older mice. Thus, IFNAR signaling significantly increases DC numbers, acquisition of antigen presentation competence, and pro-inflammatory function prior to onset of clinically apparent lupus disease.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; dendritic cells; autoimmunity; cell activation; cell differentiation
Interferons (IFNs) induce early-response genes by stimulating Janus family (Jak) tyrosine kinases, leading to tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat transcription factors. Previous studies implicated protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) activity in the control of IFN-regulated Jak/Stat signaling, but the specific PTPs responsible remained unidentified. We have found that SH2 domain-containing PTP1 (SHPTP1; also called PTP1C, HCP, or SHP) reversibly associates with the IFN-alpha receptor complex upon IFN addition. Compared with macrophages from normal littermate controls, macrophages from motheaten mice, which lack SHPTP1, show dramatically increased Jak1 and Stat1 alpha tyrosine phosphorylation, whereas Tyk2 and Stat2 activation is largely unaffected. These findings correlate with selectively increased complex formation on a gamma response element, but not an IFN-stimulated response element, in motheaten macrophages. Our results establish that SHPTP1 selectively regulates distinct components of Jak/Stat signal transduction pathways in vivo.
To identify potential pharmacodynamic biomarkers to guide dose selection in clinical trials using anti-interferon-alpha (IFN-α) monoclonal antibody (mAb)
therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we used an Affymetrix human genome array platform and identified 110 IFN-α/β-inducible transcripts significantly upregulated in whole blood (WB) of 41 SLE patients. The overexpression of these genes was confirmed prospectively in 54 additional SLE patients and allowed for the categorization of the SLE patients into groups of high, moderate, and weak overexpressers of IFN-α/β-inducible genes. This approach could potentially allow for an accurate assessment of drug target neutralization in early trials of anti-IFN-α mAb therapy for SLE. Furthermore, ex vivo stimulation of healthy donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells with SLE patient serum and subsequent neutralization with anti-IFN-α mAb or anti-IFN-α receptor mAb showed that anti-IFN-α mAb has comparable effects of neutralizing the overexpression of type I IFN-inducible genes as that of anti-IFNAR mAb. These results suggest that IFN-α, and not other members of type I IFN family in SLE patients, is mainly responsible for the induction of type I IFN-inducible genes in WB of SLE patients. Taken together, these data strengthen the view of IFN-α as a therapeutic target for SLE.
It is well established that interferons trigger tyrosine-kinase-dependent signaling via JAK kinases and STAT transcription factors. However, we have observed both IFNaR2 receptor cleavage and functional activity of the liberated intracellular domain (ICD), suggesting that interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) can also signal via regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP), an evolutionarily conserved mechanism of receptor-mediated signaling. Sequential cleavage of the receptor ectodomain and transmembrane domain is a hallmark of the most common class of RIP. To investigate the mechanisms of IFNaR2 RIP signaling, we examined IFNaR2 cleavage by TNF-alpha converting enzyme (TACE) and presenilin proteases. We tracked the fate of epitope-tagged and fusion variants of IFNaR2 in cells expressing wild-type, mutant, or null versions of TACE and presenilins 1 and 2. Cleavage and subcellular location were determined by immunoblot, fluoresence microscopy, and reporter assays. We found that both TACE and presenilin 1/2 cleave IFNaR2, in a sequential manner that allows the ICD to move to the nucleus. TACE cleavage was induced by IFN-alpha but was not consistently required for the anti-proliferative effects of IFN-alpha. In conclusion, IFNaR2 is cleaved by TACE and Presenilin 1/2, suggesting that interferons signal by both kinase and RIP-mediated pathways.
The type I interferon system plays a critical role in limiting the spread of viral infection. Viruses induce the production of interferon (IFN), which after binding to the IFN-α/β receptor (IFNAR), and triggering of the JAK/STAT signaling cascade, results in the induction of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). These ISGs function to inhibit viral replication and to regulate the host immune response. Among these ISGs, the ubiquitin-like molecule, ISG15, is one of the most strongly induced proteins. Similar to ubiquitin, through an IFN induced conjugation cascade, ISG15 is covalently linked to a variety of cellular proteins, suggesting regulation of different cellular processes. Studies performed over the past several years have shown that ISG15 plays a central role in the host’s antiviral response against many viruses. Mice lacking ISG15 display increased susceptibility to multiple viruses. Furthermore, several viruses have developed immune evasion strategies that directly target the ISG15 pathway. Work is now underway to determine the mechanism by which ISG15 functions as an antiviral molecule, such that therapies targeting this pathway can be developed in the future.
ISG15; interferon; antiviral; ubiquitin-like molecule
We demonstrate here that Sendai virus (SeV) blocks alpha interferon (IFN-α) signaling to signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) in HeLa cells. IFN-α-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of STATs and subsequent formation of the IFN-stimulated gene factor 3 transcription complex were inhibited in SeV-infected cells, resulting in inefficient induction of IFN-stimulated gene products. None of the components of the signaling pathway—type I IFN receptor subunits Jak1, Tyk2, Stat1, Stat2, and p48—was degraded. Moreover, tyrosine phosphorylation of Jak1 in response to IFN-α was unaffected at the early phase of infection, suggesting that oligomerization of the receptor subunits proceeded normally. In contrast to Jak1, IFN-α-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of Tyk2 was partially inhibited. Therefore, this partial inhibition of activation of Tyk2 probably contributes to the subsequent failure in the activation of STATs.
The interferon (IFN)-induced enzyme 2-5A synthetase was elevated in mononuclear cells from both serum IFN-positive and -negative systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. This suggests that a much higher percentage of patients than previously thought produce endogenous IFN. These results may partly explain findings that mononuclear cells from SLE patients are deficient in IFN production in vitro in response to certain IFN inducers. Although normal lymphocytes can produce an acid- labile alpha IFN after stimulation with C. parvum in vitro, the reason for endogenous production of this unusual alpha IFN by SLE patients remains unknown.