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J Exp Med. 2005 May 16;201(10):1543-53. Epub 2005 May 9.

A cytomegaloviral protein reveals a dual role for STAT2 in IFN-{gamma} signaling and antiviral responses.

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Institut für Virologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


A mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) gene conferring interferon (IFN) resistance was identified. This gene, M27, encodes a 79-kD protein that selectively binds and down-regulates for signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-2, but it has no effect on STAT1 activation and signaling. The absence of pM27 conferred MCMV susceptibility to type I IFNs (alpha/beta), but it had a much more dramatic effect on type II IFNs (gamma) in vitro and in vivo. A comparative analysis of M27(+) and M27(-) MCMV revealed that the antiviral efficiency of IFN-gamma was partially dependent on the synergistic action of type I IFNs that required STAT2. Moreover, STAT2 was directly activated by IFN-gamma. This effect required IFN receptor expression and was independent of type I IFNs. IFN-gamma induced increasing levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT2 in M27(-) MCMV-infected cells that were essential for the antiviral potency of IFN-gamma. pM27 represents a new strategy for simultaneous evasions from types I and II IFNs, and it documents an unknown biological significance for STAT2 in antiviral IFN-gamma responses.

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