Aspects of interferon alpha signalling in hematopoetic cells
Sammanfattning: The type I interferons (IFN) are a family of cytokines with pleiothropic activities that include inhibition of viral replication, cell proliferation and activation of the immune system. These properties give the IFNs important physiological and pathological roles in infection and cancer and have led to their therapeutic use for many clinical conditions. In humans, the type I IFNs consist of 12 different IFNa subtypes as well as single IFNb, w and k subtypes. They all compete for binding to a common receptor, consisting of two subunits, IFNAR1 and IFNAR2. In almost all cell types proliferation is inhibited by IFNs as a consequence of the antiviral properties. However, previous studies on human peripheral B-lymphocytes have shown increased survival as well as proliferation upon IFN treatment. We established a purification system for extraction of B-lymphocytes from buffy-coat, utilizing density centrifugation in combination with anti-CD19 magnetic beads. In an attempt to identify the molecular mechanisms of increased survival, the expression and/or activation pattern of different signaling proteins were analysed by Western blot. It was previously reported that phosphatidylinositol 3’-kinase (PI3K) physically interacts with the IFNAR complex, via adaptor proteins. Activated PI3K indirectly activates Akt/PKB, a kinase involved in a pathway leading to both survival and proliferation signals. We were able to show a novel signaling pathway - IFN treatment activated Akt/PKB as well as a downstream effector, one member of the Forkhead family (FKHR) was inactivated by phosphorylation and as a consequence p27/Kip1 expression was downregulated. Activation of this pathway resulted in increased survival as measured by TUNEL assay, an effect efficiently counteracted by the the synthetic PI3K inhibitor, LY294002. In additional experiments we investigated the molecular mechanisms of proliferation. Activation of B-cells was ensured by using limiting concentrations of anti-IgM antibodies, mimicing natural activation. Using thymidine incorporation, we discovered that IFN treatment increased the sensitivity to anti-IgM stimulation. As a consequence, more cells proliferated as measured by CFSE staining. However, on its own, IFN was unable to induce proliferation. IFN turned out to be as efficient as IL-2, a classical B-lymphocyte growth factor. In order to distinguish proliferation from increased survival, Rb phoshorylation was analysed by Western blot. Phosphorylation induced by anti-IgM was further enhanced by IFN. As we determined earlier, p27/Kip1 expression was downregulated, releasing the cell cycle block. However, p21/Cip1 expression was upregulated but almost exclusively localised to the cytoplasm, therefore unable to perform the classical growth inhibitory functions. We conclude that type I interferons contribute to increased survival as well as proliferation of human primary B-lymphocytes. The IFN receptor subunits was studied in a human myeloma cell line (U266), using a variant of which that are totally resistant towards the anti-proliferative properties of IFN. The reason for resistance in clinical situations is seldom elucidated, but is often believed to be due to development of antibodies against interferon. The resistant cells were unable to bind radio-labelled IFN, and through Southern Blot we could determine that the IFNAR1 gene was not functional. Also the IFNAR2 gene was affected, since Northern blot and sequencing detected an aberrant transcript not present in the wild type cells. Karyotyping showed that the cells had 3-4 copies of chromosome 21, but Southern blot did not detect any cytoplasmic region of IFNAR2. The IFN receptors are close to each other on the genome, and a deletion affecting one receptor gene is likely to affect the other as well. We conclude that the IFN resistance in U266Res cells is due to lack of functional receptor subunits.
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