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J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15;168(12):6224-31.

IFN-stimulated gene 15 is synergistically activated through interactions between the myelocyte/lymphocyte-specific transcription factors, PU.1, IFN regulatory factor-8/IFN consensus sequence binding protein, and IFN regulatory factor-4: characterization of a new subtype of IFN-stimulated response element.

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  • 1Department of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Technion, Haifa, Israel.


Type I IFNs cause the induction of a subset of genes termed IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), which harbor a specific DNA element, IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE). This ISRE confers the responsiveness to the IFN signal through the binding of a family of transcription factors designated IFN regulatory factors (IRFs). Some IRFs can bind to the DNA alone, such as IRF-1, which elicits transcriptional activation, or IRF-2, which leads to transcriptional repression. In addition, these factors associate with IRF-8/IFN consensus sequence binding protein (ICSBP), an immune cell-restricted IRF, and the assembled heterocomplexes lead to synergistic repression of ISRE elements. ISG15 is a prototype ISG that contains a well-characterized ISRE. Here we show that PU.1, an ETS member essential for myeloid/lymphoid cell differentiation, forms heterocomplexes with the immune-restricted IRFs, IRF-8\/ICSBP and IRF-4, which lead to transcriptional activation of ISG15. These data allowed the characterization of a subset of ISREs designated ETS/IRF response element (EIRE), which are differentially regulated in immune cells. EIREs are unique in their ability to recruit different factors to an assembled enhanceosomes. In nonimmune cells the factors will mainly include IRF members, while cell type-restricted factors, such as PU.1, IRF-8\/ICSBP, and IRF-4, will be recruited in immune cells. IRF heterocomplex formation leads to transcriptional repression, and conversely, PU.1/IRFs heterocomplex formation leads to transcriptional activation. The fact that IRF-8\/ICSBP is an IFN-gamma-induced factor explains why some of the EIREs are also induced by type II IFN. Our results lay the molecular basis for the unique regulation of ISGs, harboring EIRE, in immune cells.

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