Researchers discover novel anti-inflammatory transcription factors

By Sanjana Puri

Researchers have discovered two proteins, transcription factors SIX1 and SIX2, that work to reduce inflammation in the adult immune system. Transcription factors are proteins that bind to DNA sequences and either induce or repress transcription of the sequence into protein. SIX1 and SIX2 play critical roles in fetal development through their induction of the synthesis of key tissues and organs. Its role change into a suppressor in an adult is of particular interest to researchers as it provides insight into an entirely new pathway for controlling inflammation. These transcription factors are closely associated with a condition called a cytokine storm in which the immune system provides an excessive response after stimulation (such as the flu). SIX1 and SIX2 work to curb this response and prevent its signalling cascade. Further study of these transcription factors could also demonstrate why certain cancer cells are resistant to chemotherapy. Disruption of the anti-inflammation pathway (due to the dysfunction of SIX1 and SIX2) could cause the proliferation of cancer cells.


Zixu Liu, Katrina B. Mar, Natasha W. Hanners, Sofya S. Perelman, Mohammed Kanchwala, Chao Xing, John W. Schoggins, Neal M. Alto. A NIK–SIX signalling axis controls inflammation by targeted silencing of non-canonical NF-κB. Nature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1041-6