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Cooperative contributions of Interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) and IRF8 to interferon-gamma-mediated cytotoxic effects on oligodendroglial progenitor cells


Abstract Background Administration of exogenous interferon-γ (IFNγ) aggravates the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), whereas interferon-β (IFNβ) is used for treatment of MS patients. We previously demonstrated that IFNγ induces apoptosis of oligodendroglial progenitor cells (OPCs), suggesting that IFNγ is more toxic to OPCs than IFNβ. Thus we hypothesized that a difference in expression profiles between IFNγ-inducible and IFNβ-inducible genes in OPCs would predict the genes responsible for IFNγ-mediated cytotoxic effects on OPCs. We have tested this hypothesis particularly focusing on the interferon regulatory factors (IRFs) well-known transcription factors up-regulated by IFNs. Methods Highly pure primary rat OPC cultures were treated with IFNγ and IFNβ. Cell death and proliferation were assessed by MTT reduction, caspse-3-like proteinase activity, Annexin-V binding, mitochondrial membrane potential, and BrdU-incorporation. Induction of all nine IRFs was comprehensively compared by quantitative PCR between IFNγ-treated and IFNβ-treated OPCs. IRFs more strongly induced by IFNγ than by IFNβ were selected, and tested for their ability to induce OPC apoptosis by overexpression and by inhibition by dominant-negative proteins or small interference RNA either in the presence or absence of IFNγ. Results Unlike IFNγ, IFNβ did not induce apoptosis of OPCs. Among nine IRFs, IRF1 and IRF8 were preferentially up-regulated by IFNγ. In contrast, IRF7 was more robustly induced by IFNβ than by IFNγ. Overexpressed IRF1 elicited apoptosis of OPCs, and a dominant negative IRF1 protein partially protected OPCs from IFNγ-induced apoptosis, indicating a substantial contribution of IRF1 to IFNγ-induced OPC apoptosis. On the other hand, overexpression of IRF8 itself had only marginal proapoptotic effects. However, overexpressed IRF8 enhanced the IFNγ-induced cytotoxicity and the proapoptotic effect of overexpressed IRF1, and down-regulation of IRF8 by siRNA partially but significantly reduced preapoptotic cells after treatment with IFNγ, suggesting that IRF8 cooperatively enhances IFNγ-induced OPC apoptosis. Conclusions This study has identified that IRF1 and IRF8 mediate IFNγ-signaling leading to OPC apoptosis. Therapies targeting at these transcription factors and their target genes could reduce IFNγ-induced OPC loss and thereby enhance remyelination in MS patients.

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