Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes with the capacity to elicit adaptive features, including clonal expansion and immunological memory. Because signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) is essential for NK cell development, the roles of this transcription factor and its upstream cytokines interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-15 during infection have not been carefully investigated. In this study, we investigate how STAT5 regulates transcription during viral infection. We demonstrate that STAT5 is induced in NK cells by IL-12 and STAT4 early after infection and that partial STAT5 deficiency results in a defective capacity of NK cells to generate long-lived memory cells. Furthermore, we find a functional dichotomy of IL-2 and IL-15 signaling outputs during viral infection, whereby both cytokines drive clonal expansion, but only IL-15 is required for memory NK cell survival. We thus highlight a role for STAT5 signaling in promoting an optimal anti-viral NK cell response.
Keywords: IL-15; IL-2; MCMV; NK cell; STAT5; clonal expansion; memory.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.