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Biochimie. 2007 Jun-Jul;89(6-7):836-42. Epub 2007 Jan 27.

Viral suppression of the interferon system.

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Abteilung Virologie, Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Universität Freiburg, D-79008 Freiburg, Germany.


Type I interferons (IFN-alpha/beta) were originally discovered by their strong and direct antiviral activity [A. Isaacs, J. Lindenmann, Virus interference. I. The interferon, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 147 (1957) 258-267]. (see review by J. Lindenmann on p. 719, in this issue). Nevertheless, only very recently it was entirely realized that viruses would not succeed without efficient tools to undermine this potent host defense system. Current investigations are revealing an astonishing variety of viral IFN antagonistic strategies targeting virtually all parts of the IFN system, often in a highly specific manner. Viruses were found to interfere with induction of IFN synthesis, IFN-induced signaling events, the antiviral effector proteins, or simply shut off the host cell macromolecule synthesis machinery to avoid booting of the antiviral host defense. Here, we will describe a few well-characterized examples to illustrate the sophisticated and often multi-layered anti-IFN mechanisms employed by viruses.

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