CDK8 Fine-Tunes IL-6 Transcriptional Activities by Limiting STAT3 Resident Time at the Gene Loci

Jonathan Martinez-Fabregas, Luopin Wang, Elizabeth Pohler, Adeline Cozzani, Stephan Wilmes, Majid Kazemian (Lead / Corresponding author), Suman Mitra (Lead / Corresponding author), Ignacio Moraga (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
189 Downloads (Pure)


Cytokines are highly pleiotropic ligands that regulate the immune response. Here, using interleukin-6 (IL-6) as a model system, we perform detailed phosphoproteomic and transcriptomic studies in human CD4+ T helper 1 (Th-1) cells to address the molecular bases defining cytokine functional pleiotropy. We identify CDK8 as a negative regulator of STAT3 transcriptional activities, which interacts with STAT3 upon IL-6 stimulation. Inhibition of CDK8 activity, using specific small molecule inhibitors, reduces the IL-6-induced phosphoproteome by 23% in Th-1 cells, including STAT3 S727 phosphorylation. STAT3 binding to target DNA sites in the genome is increased upon CDK8 inhibition, which results in a concomitant increase in STAT3-mediated transcriptional activity. Importantly, inhibition of CDK8 activity under Th-17 polarizing conditions results in an enhancement of Th-17 differentiation. Our results support a model where CDK8 regulates STAT3 transcriptional processivity by modulation of its gene loci resident time, critically contributing to diversification of IL-6 responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108545
Number of pages26
JournalCell Reports
Issue number12
Early online date22 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2020


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