Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Ivana Vancurova

Second Advisor

Ales Vancura

Third Advisor

Matteo Ruggiu


Interferon-γ (IFNγ) is a pleiotropic cytokine that has a crucial role in immune response and tumor immunity. Because of its anti-tumor effects, IFNγ has been used in cancer treatment. However, IFNγ also has tumor-promoting functions that are less well understood. Here, I show that IFNγ induces expression of the pro-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8, CXCL8) in ovarian cancer (OC) cells. The IFNγ-induced IL-8 expression is dependent on JAK1, STAT1, and p65 NFκB, and is associated with an increased occupancy of K314/ 315 acetylated p65 NFκB and Ser-727 phosphorylated STAT1 at the IL-8 promoter. Neutralization of IL-8 using anti-IL-8 antibody reduces IFNγ-induced migration of OC cells. These findings indicate that the IFNγ-induced IL-8 expression contributes to IFNγ pro-tumorigenic effects in ovarian cancer cells. In addition, IFNγ induces expression of immune checkpoint PD-L1 in OC cells, resulting in their increased proliferation and tumor growth, but the mechanisms that regulate PD-L1 expression in OC remain unclear. My results demonstrate that the IFNγ-induced PD-L1 expression in OC cells is associated with increased levels of STAT1, Tyr-701 pSTAT1 and Ser-727 pSTAT1. Suppression of JAK1 and STAT1 significantly decreases the IFNγ-induced PD-L1 expression in OC cells. In addition, IFNγ induces expression of the transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) and IRF1 suppression attenuates the IFNγ-induced gene and protein levels of PD-L1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation results show that IFNγ induces PD-L1 promoter acetylation and recruitment of STAT1, Ser-727 pSTAT1 and IRF1 in OC cells. These findings demonstrate that the IFNγ-induced PD-L1 expression in OC cells is regulated by JAK1, STAT1, and IRF1 signaling, and suggest that targeting the JAK1/ STAT1/IRF1 pathway may provide a leverage to regulate the PD-L1 levels in ovarian cancer. Studying the molecular mechanisms that regulate expression of IFNγ-induced IL-8 and PD-L1 will contribute to better understanding of tumor promoting functions of IFNγ

Included in

Biology Commons