Interferons (IFNs), first identified for their potent antiviral activity, can be divided into two major classes. Of these, type II or immune IFN (a.k.a. IFN-gamma) has earned much notoriety, but the type I IFNs (IFN-Is; e.g., IFN-alpha, IFN-beta, etc.) represent a much larger and complex family. Consistent with this, viruses have evolved numerous strategies to thwart IFN-I activity. More recently, IFN-Is have also achieved some celebrity with the recognition that they are the major effector cytokine secreted by plasmacvtoid dendritic cells (pDCs, a.k.a. """"""""Natural IFN-I Producing Cells""""""""). These IFN-Is then regulate aspects of both innate and adaptive immunity. There is also intriguing new evidence that IFN-Is and pDCs play an important role in the pathogenesis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE). Like other cytokines, IFN-Is induce their potent activity through the induction of new genes. Characterization of the ability of IFN-alpha to rapidly induce genes led to the identification of Stat1 and Stat2, the first two STAT transcription factors. These STATs are recruited to the type I IFN receptor (IFNAR) by unknown mechanisms, whereupon they become activated (by tyrosine phosphorylation), dimerize, translocate to the nucleus and activate genes. In contrast, IFN-gamma transduces its signals solely through Stat1, albeit with differing kinetics. To determine the unique role Stat2 plays in the biological response to IFN-Is, Stat2 knockout mice were generated. These mice were highly susceptible to viral infection and partially unresponsive to IFN-Is. Unexpectedly, they exhibited tissue-specific differences in IFN-I stimulated Statl activation and a loss in the normal regulation of the Major Histocompatibility Complex class II (MHC-II). These observations highlight the important role type I IFNs play in regulating innate and adaptive immunity. To understand how IFN-Is mediate their many potent effects we propose to: 1. Determine how STATs are activated at the type I IFN receptor, including tissue specific differences. 2. Determine the unique role Stat2 exhibits in regulating MHC-II expression in macrophages 3. Explore the role SUMOylation may play in regulating the kinetics of IFN stimulated STATs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
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Allergy and Immunology Study Section (ALY)
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Nasseri, M Faraz
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
Schools of Medicine
New York
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