IRF8: Mechanism of Action and Health Implications

Hannah R. Moorman, Yazmin Reategui, Dakota B. Poschel, Kebin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8) is a transcription factor of the IRF protein family. IRF8 was originally identified as an essentialfactor for myeloid cell lineage commitment and differentiation. Deletion of Irf8 leads to massive accumulation of CD11b+Gr1+ immature myeloid cells (IMCs), particularly the CD11b+Ly6Chi/+Ly6G polymorphonuclear myeloid-derived suppressor cell-like cells (PMN-MDSCs). Under pathological conditions such as cancer, Irf8 is silenced by its promoter DNA hypermethylation, resulting in accumulation of PMN-MDSCs and CD11b+ Ly6G+Ly6Clo monocytic MDSCs (M-MDSCs) in mice. IRF8 is often silenced in MDSCs in human cancer patients. MDSCs are heterogeneous populations of immune suppressive cells that suppress T and NK cell activity to promote tumor immune evasion and produce growth factors to exert direct tumor-promoting activity. Emerging experimental data reveals that IRF8 is also expressed in non-hematopoietic cells. Epithelial cell-expressed IRF8 regulates apoptosis and represses Osteopontin (OPN). Human tumor cells may use the IRF8 promoter DNA methylation as a mechanism to repress IRF8 expression to advance cancer through acquiring apoptosis resistance and OPN up-regulation. Elevated OPN engages CD44 to suppress T cell activation and promote tumor cell stemness to advance cancer. IRF8 thus is a transcription factor that regulates both the immune and non-immune components in human health and diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2630
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • IRF8
  • MDSCs
  • OPN
  • immunotherapy
  • myeloid cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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