The IRF-3 transcription factor mediates Sendai virus-induced apoptosis

Christophe Heylbroeck, Siddharth Balachandran, Marc J. Servant, Carmela DeLuca, Glen N. Barber, Rongtuan Lin, John Hiscott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Virus infection of target cells can result in different biological outcomes: lytic infection, cellular transformation, or cell death by apoptosis. Cells respond to virus infection by the activation of specific transcription factors involved in cytokine gene regulation and cell growth control. The ubiquitously expressed interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) transcription factor is directly activated following virus infection through posttranslational modification. Phosphorylation of specific C-terminal serine residues results in IRF-3 dimerization, nuclear translocation, and activation of DNA-binding and transactivation potential. Once activated, IRF-3 transcriptionally up regulates alpha/beta interferon genes, the chemokine RANTES, and potentially other genes that inhibit viral infection. We previously generated constitutively active [IRF-3(5D)] and dominant negative (IRF-3 ΔN) forms of IRF-3 that control target gene expression. In an effort to characterize the growth regulatory properties of IRF-3, we observed that IRF-3 is a mediator of paramyxovirus-induced apoptosis. Expression of the constitutively active form of IRF-3 is toxic, preventing the establishment of stably transfected cells. By using a tetracycline-inducible system, we show that induction of IRF-3(5D) alone is sufficient to induce apoptosis in human embryonic kidney 293 and human Jurkat T cells as measured by DNA laddering, terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling assay, and analysis of DNA content by flow cytometry. Wild-type IRF-3 expression augments paramyxovirus-induced apoptosis, while expression of IRF- 3 ΔN blocks virus-induced apoptosis. In addition, we demonstrate an important role of caspases 8, 9, and 3 in IRF-3-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that IRF-3, in addition to potently activating cytokine genes, regulates apoptotic signalling following virus infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3781-3792
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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