Mouse type I IFN-producing cells are immature APCs with plasmacytoid morphology

Nat Immunol. 2001 Dec;2(12):1144-50. doi: 10.1038/ni736.


We show here that mouse interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha)-producing cells (mIPCs) are a unique subset of immature antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that secrete IFN-alpha upon stimulation with viruses. mIPCs have a plasmacytoid morphology, can be stained with an antibody to Ly6G and Ly6C (anti-Ly6G/C) and are Ly6C+B220+CD11cloCD4+; unlike other dendritic cell subsets, however, they do not express CD8alpha or CD11b. Although mIPCs undergo apoptosis in vitro, stimulation with viruses, IFN-alpha or CpG oligonucleotides enhanced their survival and T cell stimulatory activity. In vivo, mIPCs were the main producers of IFN-alpha in cytomegalovirus-infected mice, as depletion of Ly6G+/C+ cells abrogated IFN-alpha production. mIPCs produced interleukin 12 (IL-12) in response to viruses and CpG oligodeoxynucleotides, but not bacterial products. Although different pathogens can selectively engage various APC subsets for IL-12 production, IFN-alpha production is restricted to mIPCs' response to viral infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / classification
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferon-alpha / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muromegalovirus / physiology
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / pharmacology
  • Orthomyxoviridae / physiology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • CPG-oligonucleotide
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Interleukin-12