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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2010 Aug;299(2):C354-62. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00513.2009. Epub 2010 May 19.

IFN gamma-dependent SOCS3 expression inhibits IL-6-induced STAT3 phosphorylation and differentially affects IL-6 mediated transcriptional responses in endothelial cells.

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Laboratory of Human Molecular Genetics, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, 61-614 Poznan, Poland.


IL-6 has pro- and anti-inflammatory effects and is involved in endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction. The anti-inflammatory effects of IL-6 are mediated by signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3), which is importantly controlled by suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3). Therefore, cytokines that modulate SOCS3 expression might inhibit the anti-inflammatory effects of IL-6. We hypothesized that in EC, interferon-gamma (IFNgamma)-induced SOCS3 expression leads to inhibition of IL-6-induced STAT3 activation and IL-6-dependent expression of anti-, but not pro-inflammatory, target genes. IFNgamma activated STAT1 and STAT3 and increased SOCS3 expression in EC. IL-6 only activated STAT3 and induced SOCS3 expression. IFNgamma pretreatment of EC inhibited IL-6-induced STAT3 activation accompanied by increased SOCS3 protein. Inhibition of SOCS3 expression, using costimulation, Act-D, and small interfering RNA (siRNA), subsequently implicated the importance of IFNgamma-induced SOCS3 in this phenomenon. Pretreatment of EC with IFNgamma also affected the transcriptional program induced by IL-6. We identified 1) IL-6 anti-inflammatory target genes that were inhibited by IFNgamma, 2) IFNgamma-target genes of pro-inflammatory nature that were increased in response to IL-6 in the presence of IFNgamma, and 3) a set of target genes that were increased upon IL-6 or IFNgamma alone, or combined IFNgamma and IL-6. In summary, by increasing SOCS3 expression in EC, IFNgamma can selectively inhibit STAT3-dependent IL-6 signaling. This in turn leads to decreased expression of some EC protective genes. In contrast, other genes of pro-inflammatory nature are not inhibited or even increased. This IFNgamma-induced shift in IL-6 signaling to a pro-inflammatory phenotype could represent a novel mechanism involved in EC dysfunction.

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