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J Clin Invest. 2008 Apr;118(4):1417-26. doi: 10.1172/JCI30065.

IRF9 and STAT1 are required for IgG autoantibody production and B cell expression of TLR7 in mice.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Abstract

A hallmark of SLE is the production of high-titer, high-affinity, isotype-switched IgG autoantibodies directed against nucleic acid-associated antigens. Several studies have established a role for both type I IFN (IFN-I) and the activation of TLRs by nucleic acid-associated autoantigens in the pathogenesis of this disease. Here, we demonstrate that 2 IFN-I signaling molecules, IFN regulatory factor 9 (IRF9) and STAT1, were required for the production of IgG autoantibodies in the pristane-induced mouse model of SLE. In addition, levels of IgM autoantibodies were increased in pristane-treated Irf9 -/- mice, suggesting that IRF9 plays a role in isotype switching in response to self antigens. Upregulation of TLR7 by IFN-alpha was greatly reduced in Irf9 -/- and Stat1 -/- B cells. Irf9 -/- B cells were incapable of being activated through TLR7, and Stat1 -/- B cells were impaired in activation through both TLR7 and TLR9. These data may reveal a novel role for IFN-I signaling molecules in both TLR-specific B cell responses and production of IgG autoantibodies directed against nucleic acid-associated autoantigens. Our results suggest that IFN-I is upstream of TLR signaling in the activation of autoreactive B cells in SLE.

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