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PLoS Pathog. 2011 Feb;7(2):e1001297. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001297. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

STAT2 mediates innate immunity to Dengue virus in the absence of STAT1 via the type I interferon receptor.

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Division of Vaccine Discovery, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, California, USA.


Dengue virus (DENV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus, and symptoms of infection range from asymptomatic to the severe dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS). High viral loads correlate with disease severity, and both type I & II interferons (IFNs) are crucial for controlling viral replication. We have previously reported that signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 1-deficient mice are resistant to DENV-induced disease, but little is known about this STAT1-independent mechanism of protection. To determine the molecular basis of the STAT1-independent pathway, mice lacking STAT1, STAT2, or both STAT1 and STAT2 were infected with a virulent mouse-adapted strain of DENV2. In the first 72 hours of infection, the single-deficient mice lacking STAT1 or STAT2 possessed 50-100 fold higher levels of viral RNA than wild type mice in the serum, spleen, and other visceral tissues, but remained resistant to DENV-induced death. In contrast, the double-deficient mice exhibited the early death phenotype previously observed in type I and II IFN receptor knockout mice (AG129), indicating that STAT2 is the mediator of the STAT1-independent host defense mechanism. Further studies demonstrated that this STAT2-dependent STAT1-independent mechanism requires the type I IFN receptor, and contributes to the autocrine amplification of type I IFN expression. Examination of gene expression in the spleen and bone marrow-derived macrophages following DENV infection revealed STAT2-dependent pathways can induce the transcription of a subset of interferon stimulated genes even in the absence of STAT1. Collectively, these results help elucidate the nature of the poorly understood STAT1-independent host defense mechanism against viruses by identifying a functional type I IFN/STAT2 signaling pathway following DENV infection in vivo.

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