STAT1 is essential for antimicrobial effector function but dispensable for gamma interferon production during Toxoplasma gondii infection.
The opportunistic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii is a prototypic Th1-inducing pathogen inducing strong gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) cytokine responses that are required to survive infection. Intracellular signaling intermediate STAT1 mediates many effects of IFN-gamma and is implicated in activation of T-bet, a master regulator of Th1 differentiation. Here, we show that T. gondii-infected STAT1-null mice fail to upregulate the IFN-gamma-dependent effector molecules inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), IGTP, and LRG-47, which are required for mice to survive infection. Both T-bet and interleukin-12 receptor beta2 (IL-12Rbeta2) failed to undergo normal upregulation in response to T. gondii. Development of IFN-gamma-producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T lymphocytes was severely curtailed in the absence of STAT1, but a substantial level of STAT1-independent non-T-cell-derived IFN-gamma was induced. Absence of STAT1 also resulted in increased IL-4, Arg1, Ym1, and Fizz1, markers of Th2 differentiation and alternative macrophage activation. Together, the results show that T. gondii induces STAT1-dependent T-lymphocyte and STAT1-independent non-T-cell IFN-gamma production, but that effector functions of this type 1 cytokine cannot operate in the absence of STAT1, resulting in extreme susceptibility to acute infection.
Gavrilescu, LC; Butcher, BA; Del Rio, L; Taylor, GA; Denkers, EY
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