A mechanism that limits interferon in immune responses discovered

A mechanism that limits interferon in immune responses discovered

News from DCEXS-UPF

Researchers at the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS) at UPF have discovered a new pathway that controls interferon-type immune responses. The transcription factor NFAT5, which induces multiple inflammatory mediators, represses type I interferons, however. 

The study, led by Cristina López-Rodríguez and Jose Aramburu has been published in Journal of Experimental Medicine. It is the result of collaboration between the DCEXS research groups NFAT Proteins and Immune Response, coordinated by Cristina López-Rodríguez and Jose Aramburu, and Immune Response and Infection Biology, coordinated by Andreas Meyerhans.

Interferons constitute a group of proteins produced by our cells in response to attacks by pathogens such as viruses or tumour cells. When a cell is infected by a virus, it secretes interferons, and thus activates antiviral defences in nearby cells. Although interferon is key in protecting against pathogens, an excess can cause inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and so it is very important to keep it duly regulated.

Previous studies had described that the transcription factor NFAT5 favours the expression of numerous inflammatory genes. Now, this new study shows that NFAT5 represses the type I interferon pathway by means of a mechanism in the first level of regulation that is possible, preventing its expression.


Hector Huerga Encabo, Laia Traveset, Jordi Argilaguet, Ana Angulo, Estanislao Nistal-Villán, Rahul Jaiswal, Carlos R. Escalante, Christos Gekas, Andreas Meyerhans, Jose Aramburu, Cristina López-Rodríguez; The transcription factor NFAT5 limits infection-induced type I interferon responses. J Exp Med 2 March 2020; 217 (3): e20190449.DOI: 10.1084/jem.20190449

More information:
DCEXS-UPF website