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J Virol. 2005 Nov;79(22):13974-83.

Identification of interferon-stimulated gene 15 as an antiviral molecule during Sindbis virus infection in vivo.

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Department of Pathology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The innate immune response, and in particular the alpha/beta interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) system, plays a critical role in the control of viral infections. Interferons alpha and beta exert their antiviral effects through the induction of hundreds of interferon-induced (or -stimulated) genes (ISGs). While several of these ISGs have characterized antiviral functions, their actions alone do not explain all of the effects mediated by IFN-alpha/beta. To identify additional IFN-induced antiviral molecules, we utilized a recombinant chimeric Sindbis virus to express selected ISGs in IFN-alpha/beta receptor (IFN-alpha/betaR)(-/-) mice and looked for attenuation of Sindbis virus infection. Using this approach, we identified a ubiquitin homolog, interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), as having antiviral activity. ISG15 expression protected against Sindbis virus-induced lethality and decreased Sindbis virus replication in multiple organs without inhibiting the spread of virus throughout the host. We establish that, much like ubiquitin, ISG15 requires its C-terminal LRLRGG motif to form intracellular conjugates. Finally, we demonstrate that ISG15's LRLRGG motif is also required for its antiviral activity. We conclude that ISG15 can be directly antiviral.

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