Type I interferon signaling mediates Mycobacterium tuberculosis-induced macrophage death

J Exp Med. 2021 Feb 1;218(2):e20200887. doi: 10.1084/jem.20200887.


Macrophages help defend the host against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the major cause of tuberculosis (TB). Once phagocytized, Mtb resists killing by macrophages, replicates inside them, and leads to their death, releasing Mtb that can infect other cells. We found that the death of Mtb-infected mouse macrophages in vitro does not appear to proceed by a currently known pathway. Through genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screening, we identified a critical role for autocrine or paracrine signaling by macrophage-derived type I IFNs in the death of Mtb-infected macrophages in vitro, and blockade of type I IFN signaling augmented the effect of rifampin, a first-line TB drug, in Mtb-infected mice. Further definition of the pathway of type I IFN-mediated macrophage death may allow for host-directed therapy of TB that is more selective than systemic blockade of type I IFN signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autocrine Communication / drug effects
  • Autocrine Communication / physiology
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems / drug effects
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems / physiology
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects
  • Paracrine Communication / drug effects
  • Paracrine Communication / physiology
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology


  • Interferon Type I
  • Rifampin