A new IRF-1–driven apoptotic pathway triggered by IL-4/IL-13 kills neonatal Th1 cells and weakens protection against viral infection

Mindy M. Miller, Subhasis Barik, Alexis N. Cattin-Roy, Tobechukwu K. Ukah, Christine Marie Hoeman, Habib Zaghouani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Early life immune responses are deficient in Th1 lymphocytes that compromise neonatal vaccination. We found that IL-4 and IL-13 engage a developmentally expressed IL-4Ra/IL-13Ra1 heteroreceptor to endow IFN regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) with apoptotic functions, which redirect murine neonatal Th1 reactivation to cell death. IL-4/IL-13–induced STAT6 phosphorylation serves to enhance IRF-1 transcription and promotes its egress from the nucleus. In the cytoplasm, IRF-1 can no longer serve as an anti-viral transcription factor but, instead, colocalizes with Bim and instigates the mitochondrial, or intrinsic, death pathway. The new pivotal function of IRF-1 in the death of neonatal Th1 cells stems from the ability of its gene to bind STAT6 for enhanced transcription and the proficiency of its protein to precipitate Bim-driven apoptosis. This cytokine-induced, IRF-1–mediated developmental death network weakens neonatal Th1 responses during early life vaccination and increases susceptibility to viral infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3173-3186
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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