Hiscott, J., Grandvaux, N., Sharma, S., Tenoever, B. R., Servant, M. J. and Lin, R.
Ann N Y Acad Sci 23/03/2004
The ubiquitously expressed interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) is directly activated following virus infection and functions as a key activator of the immediate-early Type 1 interferon (IFN) genes. Using DNA microarray analysis (8,556 genes) in Jurkat T cells inducibly expressing constitutively active IRF-3, several target genes directly regulated by IRF-3 were identified. Among the genes upregulated by IRF-3 were transcripts for a subset of known IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), including ISG56, which functions as an inhibitor of translation initiation. Phosphorylation of C-terminal Ser/Thr residues–(382)GGASSLENTVDLHISNSHPLSLTSDQY(408)-is required for IRF-3 activation. Using C-terminal point mutations and a novel phosphospecific antibody, Ser396 was characterized as the minimal phosphoacceptor site required in vivo for IRF-3 activation following Sendai virus (SeV) infection, expression of viral nucleocapsid, or double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) treatment. The identity of the virus-activated kinase (VAK) activity that targets and activates IRF-3 and IRF-7 has remained a critical missing link in the understanding of interferon signaling. We report that the IKK-related kinases-IKKepsilon/TBK-1-are components of VAK that mediate IRF-3 and IRF-7 phosphorylation and thus functionally link the NF-kappaB and IRF pathways in the development of the antiviral response.