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Nat Immunol. 2005 Jan;6(1):49-56. Epub 2004 Nov 28.

Lethal anemia caused by interferon-beta produced in mouse embryos carrying undigested DNA.

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Department of Genetics, Osaka University Medical School, 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


The livers of DNase II-deficient mouse embryos contain many macrophages carrying undigested DNA, and the embryos die in utero. Here we report that erythroid precursor cells underwent apoptosis in the livers of DNase II-deficient embryos and that in the liver, interferon-beta mRNA was expressed by the resident macrophages. When the DNase II-deficient mice were crossed with mice deficient in type I interferon receptor, the resultant 'double-mutant' mice were born healthy. The double-mutant embryos expressed interferon-beta mRNA, but the expression of a subset of the interferon-responsive genes dysregulated in DNase II-deficient embryos was restored to normal. These results indicate that the inability to degrade DNA derived from erythroid precursors results in interferon-beta production that induces expression of a specific set of interferon-responsive genes associated with embryonic lethality in DNase II-deficient mice.

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