Interferon-τ (IFNτ), a type I IFN produced by sheep conceptus trophectoderm, is the signal for maternal recognition of pregnancy. Although it is clear that IFNτ suppresses transcription of the estrogen receptor α and oxytocin receptor genes and induces expression of various IFN-stimulated genes within the endometrial epithelium, little is known of the signal transduction pathway activated by the hormone. This study determined the effects of IFNτ on signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) activation, expression, DNA binding, and transcriptional activation using an ovine endometrial epithelial cell line. IFNτ induced persistent tyrosine phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of STAT1 and -2 (10 min to 48 h), but transient phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of STAT3, -5a/b, and -6 (10 to <60 min). IFNτ increased expression of STAT1 and -2, but not STAT3, -5a/b, and -6. IFN-stimulated gene factor-3 and STAT1 homodimers formed and bound an IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) and γ-activated sequence (GAS) element, respectively. IFNτ increased transcription of GAS-driven promoters at 3 h, but suppressed their activity at 24 h. In contrast, the activity of an ISRE-driven promoter was increased at 3 and 24 h. These results indicate that IFNτ activates multiple STATs and has differential effects on ISRE- and GAS-driven gene transcription.
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