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<jats:p>Listeria monocytogenes is widely used as a model to study immune responses against intracellular bacteria. It has been shown that neutrophils and macrophages play an important role to restrict bacterial replication in the early phase of primary infection in mice, and that the cytokines interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) are essential for protection. However, the involved signaling pathways and effector mechanisms are still poorly understood. This study investigated mouse strains deficient for the IFN-dependent transcription factors interferon consensus sequence binding protein (ICSBP), interferon regulatory factor (IRF)1 or 2 for their capacity to eliminate Listeria in vivo and in vitro and for production of inducible reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) or reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) in macrophages. ICSBP−/− and to a lesser degree also IRF2−/− mice were highly susceptible to Listeria infection. This correlated with impaired elimination of Listeria from infected peritoneal macrophage (PEM) cultures stimulated with IFN-γ in vitro; in addition these cultures showed reduced and delayed oxidative burst upon IFN-γ stimulation, whereas nitric oxide production was normal. In contrast, mice deficient for IRF1 were not able to produce nitric oxide, but they efficiently controlled Listeria in vivo and in vitro. These results indicate that (a) the ICSBP/IRF2 complex is essential for IFN-γ–mediated protection against Listeria and that (b) ROI together with additional still unknown effector mechanisms may be responsible for the anti-Listeria activity of macrophages, whereas IRF1-induced RNI are not limiting.</jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of Experimental Medicine


Rockefeller University Press

Publication Date





921 - 932