Cell polarization and epigenetic status shape the heterogeneous response to type III interferons in intestinal epithelial cells

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Abstract

Type I and type III interferons (IFNs) are crucial components of the first-line antiviral host response. While specific receptors for both IFN types exist, intracellular signaling shares the same Jak-STAT pathway. Due to its receptor expression, IFN-λ responsiveness is restricted mainly to epithelial cells. Here, we display IFN-stimulated gene induction at the single cell level to comparatively analyze the activities of both IFN types in intestinal epithelial cells and mini-gut organoids. Initially, we noticed that the response to both types of IFNs at low concentrations is based on a single cell decision-making determining the total cell intrinsic antiviral activity. We identified histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity as a crucial restriction factor controlling the cell frequency of IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) induction upon IFN-λ but not IFN-β stimulation. Consistently, HDAC blockade confers antiviral activity to an elsewise non-responding subpopulation. Second, in contrast to the type I IFN system, polarization of intestinal epithelial cells strongly enhances their ability to respond to IFN-λ signaling and raises the kinetics of gene induction. Finally, we show that ISG induction in mini-gut organoids by low amounts of IFN is characterized by a scattered heterogeneous responsiveness of the epithelial cells and HDAC activity fine-tunes exclusively IFN-λ activity. This study provides a comprehensive description of the differential response to type I and type III IFNs and demonstrates that cell polarization in gut epithelial cells specifically increases IFN-λ activity.

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Bhushal, S., Wolfsmüller, M., Selvakumar, T. A., Kemper, L., Wirth, D., Hornef, M. W., … Köster, M. (2017). Cell polarization and epigenetic status shape the heterogeneous response to type III interferons in intestinal epithelial cells. Frontiers in Immunology, 8(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00671

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