Down-regulation of MHC-II in mesenchymal stem cells at high IFN-γ can be partly explained by cytoplasmic retention of CIITA

Katherine C. Tang, Katarzyna A. Trzaska, Sergey V. Smirnov, Sergei V. Kotenko, Stephan K. Schwander, Jerrold J. Ellner, Pranela Rameshwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are located in postnatal bone marrow, show plasticity, are linked to various bone marrow disorders, exhibit phagocytosis, exert Ag-presenting properties (APC), and are immune suppressive. Unlike professional APCs, MSCs respond bimodally to IFN-γ in MHC-II expression, with expression at 10 U/ml and baseline, and down-regulation at 100 U/ml. The effects at high IFN-γ could not be explained by down-regulation of its receptor, IFN-γRI. In this study, we report on the mechanisms by which IFN-γ regulates MHC-II expression in MSCs. Gel shift assay and Western blot analyses showed dose-dependent increases in activated STAT-1, indicating responsiveness by IFN-γRI. Western blots showed decreased intracellular MHC-II, which could not be explained by decreased transcription of the master regulator CIITA, based on RT-PCR and in situ immunofluorescence. Reporter gene assays with PIII and PIV CIITA promoters indicate constitutive expression of PIII in MSCs and a switch to PIV by IFN-γ, indicating the presence of factors for effect promoter responses. We explained decreased MHC-II at the level of transcription because CIITA protein was observed in the cytosol and not in nuclei at high IFN-γ level. The proline/serine/threonine region of CIITA showed significant decrease in phosphorylation at high IFN-γ levels. An understanding of the bimodal effects could provide insights on bone marrow homeostasis, which could be extrapolated to MSC dysfunction in hematological disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1826-1833
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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