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J Biol Chem. 2013 Feb 1;288(5):2986-93. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.386573. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

Cytokine response is determined by duration of receptor and signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) activation.

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Department of Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Paradoxically, the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 both activate STAT3, yet generate nearly opposing cellular responses. Here, we show that the temporal pattern of STAT3 activation codes for the specific cytokine response. A computational model of IL-6 and IL-10 signaling predicted that IL-6 stimulation results in transient activation of STAT3, with a rapid decline in phosphorylation and nuclear localization. In contrast, simulated IL-10 signaling resulted in sustained STAT3 activation. The predicted STAT3 patterns produced by each cytokine were confirmed experimentally in human dendritic cells. Time course microarray studies further showed that the dynamic genome-wide transcriptional responses were nearly identical at early time points following stimulation (when STAT3 is active in response to both IL-6 and IL-10) but divergent at later times (when STAT3 is active only in response to IL-10). Truncating STAT3 activation after IL-10 stimulation caused IL-10 to elicit an IL-6-like transcriptional and secretory response. That the duration of IL-10 receptor and STAT3 activation can direct distinct responses reveals a complex cellular information-coding mechanism that may be relevant to improving the prediction of the effects of drug candidates using this mechanism.

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