Stony Brook University
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Cytokines and Viral Defense
Cells respond to cytokines or to microbial infection with rapid and specific biological changes that can lead to proliferation, differentiation, immune defense, or cellular suicide. The innate immune response to infection induces the production and action of interferon cytokines that have the unique abilty to confer resistance to infection, to inhibit the growth of normal and tumorigenic cells, and to induce the differentiation and activation of a variety of immune cells. Determining the molecular mechanisms of action of a subset of interferon-induced genes are areas of current investigation.
Binding of interferons or hematopoietins to cell surface receptors activates associated Janus tyrosine kinases (JAKs) that in turn phosphorylate and activate latent cytoplasmic transcription factors that are members of the family of signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). Our group studies the activation and suppression of JAK-STAT signal transduction pathways, and regulation of the nuclear-cytoplasmic trafficking of STATs.