WSX-1 is a component of the IL-27R. Analyses of WSX-1 knockout (WSX-1-/-) mice have shown that IL-27/WSX-1 signaling is essential for the proper development of Th1 responses and that WSX-1 can suppress cellular activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine production. We have generated transgenic mouse lines over-expressing the WSX-1 gene under the control of the T cell-specific CD2 promoter (WSX-1 Tg mice). Unexpectedly, like activated CD4+ T cells from WSX-1-/- mice, activated CD4+ T cells from WSX-1 Tg mice showed increased proliferation, augmented IL-2 production and up-regulated surface expression of activation markers. IL-27-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT1 was also enhanced in WSX-1 Tg CD4+ T cells, but STAT3 activation was normal. Exogenous IL-27 supported the proliferation of wild-type CD4+ T cells but suppressed that of WSX-1 Tg cells. WSX-1 over-expression increased IFN-γ production in Th1-polarized CD4+ T cells, but also promoted Th2 cytokine production under Th 1-polarizing conditions. Importantly, WSX-1 over-expression failed to suppress Th2 cytokine production under Th 2-polarizing conditions. Cytokine hyperproduction was also observed in vivo in WSX-1 Tg mice injected with Con A. Our data suggest that WSX-1 plays a pivotal role in regulating T cell responsiveness to TCR stimulation and that the correct balance of STAT1/STAT3 activation downstream of IL-27R engagement is crucial for the physiological function of IL-27.
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