STAT3 negatively regulates type I IFN-mediated antiviral response

J Immunol. 2011 Sep 1;187(5):2578-85. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1004128. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Type I IFNs are crucial cytokines of innate immunity for combating viral infections. Signaling through type I IFN receptors triggers the activation of STAT proteins, including STAT1, STAT2, and STAT3. Although an essential role of STAT1 and STAT2 for type I IFN-induced antiviral response has been well established by studies of gene-targeted mice and human mutations, the role of STAT3 for this response remains unclear. Using gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches, we demonstrated that STAT3 negatively regulates type I IFN-mediated response. STAT3 knockdown or knockout cells displayed enhanced gene expression and antiviral activity in response to IFN-α/β. Restoration of STAT3 to STAT3KO cells resulted in attenuation of the response. Upon viral infection, increased type I IFN production in STAT3KO cells resulted in enhanced STAT activation and ISG expression. One mechanism for the enhanced IFN production and response in the absence of STAT3 might operate through an MDA5-dependent manner. STAT3 also appeared to suppress IFN response directly in a manner dependent on its N-terminal domain and independent of its function as a transcriptional factor. Taken together, these results define STAT3 as a negative regulator of type I IFN response and provide a therapeutic target for viral infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Interferon Type I / immunology*
  • Lentivirus / immunology
  • Lentivirus Infections / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*


  • Interferon Type I
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Stat3 protein, mouse