The transduction of type I interferon signals to the nucleus relies on activation of a protein complex, ISGF3, involving two signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) proteins, STAT1 and STAT2, and the interferon (IFN) regulatory factor (IRF) protein, p48/ISGF3γ. The STAT subunits are cytoplasmically localized in unstimulated cells and rapidly translocate to the nucleus of IFN-stimulated cells, but the p48/ISGF3γ, protein is found in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm, regardless of IFN stimulation. Here, we demonstrate that p48 is efficiently and constitutively targeted to the nucleus. Analysis of the subcellular distribution of green fluorescent protein-p48 fragments indicates that p48 contains a bipartite nuclear retention signal within its amino-terminal DNA-binding domain. This signal is preserved in two other IRF proteins involved in immune responses, ICSBP and IRF4. Mutations to clustered basic residues within amino acids 50- 100 of p48 or IRF4 disrupt their nuclear accumulation, and DNA-binding ability is not required for nuclear targeting. This is the only example of a nuclear localization signal for any ISGF3 component and assigns a second function to the IRF DNA-binding domain. We also demonstrate that the nuclear distribution of p48 is dramatically altered by coexpression of the STAT2 protein, indicating that STAT2 forms a cytoplasmic complex with p48, overriding the intrinsic p48 nuclear targeting. Retention by STAT2 may serve to regulate the activity of free p48 and/or guarantee that cytoplasmic pools of preassociated STAT2:p48 are available for rapid activation of the IFN response. These findings suggest that analogous mechanisms may exist for regulating the distribution of other IRF proteins.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 20 2000|
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