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J Biol Chem. 2003 Apr 11;278(15):13033-8. Epub 2003 Feb 5.

A hybrid IRF9-STAT2 protein recapitulates interferon-stimulated gene expression and antiviral response.

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  • 1Immunobiology Center, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Type I interferon (IFN) signaling induces the heterotrimeric transcription complex, IFN-stimulated gene factor (ISGF) 3, which contains STAT1, STAT2, and the DNA binding subunit, interferon regulatory factor (IRF) 9. Because IRF9 is targeted to the nucleus in the absence of IFN stimulation, the potential of IRF9 protein for gene regulation was examined using a GAL4 DNA binding domain fusion system. GAL4-IRF9 was transcriptionally active in reporter gene assays but not in the absence of cellular STAT1 and STAT2. However, the inert IRF9 protein was readily converted to a constitutively active ISGF3-like activator by fusion with the C-terminal transcriptional activation domain of STAT2 or the acidic activation domain of herpesvirus VP16. The IRF9 hybrids are targeted to endogenous ISGF3 target loci and can activate their transcription. Moreover, expression of the IRF9-STAT2 fusion can recapitulate the type I IFN biological response, producing a cellular antiviral state that protects cells from virus-induced cytopathic effects and inhibits virus replication. The antiviral state generated by regulated IRF9-STAT2 hybrid protein expression is independent of autocrine IFN signaling and inhibits both RNA and DNA viruses.

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