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Cytokine. 2012 Jan;57(1):191-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2011.10.006. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

IL-4 acts as a potent stimulator of IFN-γ expression in CD8+ T cells through STAT6-dependent and independent induction of Eomesodermin and T-bet.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5620, USA.


CD8+ T cell synthesis of IFN-γ is an important component of the CD8+ T cell immune response. In short-term cultures of murine pan-T cells, we found that IL-4 was the principal cytokine responsible for driving IFN-γ synthesis by CD3/CD28-activated CD8+ T cells. IL-4 was able to induce low levels of IFN-γ mRNA in CD8+ T cells even in the absence of CD3/CD28 engagement, although concomitant CD3/CD28 stimulation was necessary for IFN-γ secretion. IL-4 induction of IFN-γ was explained by its ability to induce Eomesodermin and T-bet transcription factors whose expression was further increased by CD3/CD28. Expression of Eomesodermin, T-bet and IFN-γ induced by IL-4 was partially dependent upon activation of MAPK and PI3K but independent of the canonical IL-4-activated transcription factor, STAT6. In contrast, expression of IFN-γ induced by IL-4/CD3/CD28 stimulation showed additional dependency upon STAT6 which functions to increase expression of Eomesodermin specifically. These novel findings point to a function for IL-4 as a direct regulator of IFN-γ expression in CD8+ T cells and reveal the molecular mechanisms involved.

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