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J Immunol. 2010 May 1;184(9):5179-85. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902264. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

IFN regulatory factor-1 bypasses IFN-mediated antiviral effects through viperin gene induction.

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  • 1Department of Gene Regulation and Differentiation, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany.


Viperin is an antiviral protein whose expression is highly upregulated during viral infections via IFN-dependent and/or IFN-independent pathways. We examined the molecular alterations induced by the transcriptional activator IFN regulatory factor (IRF)-1 and found viperin to be among the group of IRF-1 regulated genes. From these data, it was not possible to distinguish genes that are primary targets of IRF-1 and those that are targets of IRF-1-induced proteins, like IFN-beta. In this study, we show that IRF-1 directly binds to the murine viperin promoter to the two proximal IRF elements and thereby induces viperin expression. Infection studies with embryonal fibroblasts from different gene knock-out mice demonstrate that IRF-1 is essential, whereas the type I IFN system is dispensable for vesicular stomatitis virus induced viperin gene transcription. Further, IRF-1, but not IFN type I, mediates the induction of viperin transcription after IFN-gamma treatment. In contrast, IRF-1 is not required for IFN-independent viperin induction by Newcastle disease virus infection and by infection with a vesicular stomatitis virus mutant that is unable to block IFN expression and secretion. We conclude that the IRF-1 mediated type I IFN independent mechanism of enhanced viperin expression provides a redundant mechanism to protect cells from viral infections. This mechanism becomes important when viruses evade innate immunity by antagonizing the induction and function of the IFN system.

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