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Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2007 Oct-Dec;18(5-6):425-33. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

Interferon, Mx, and viral countermeasures.

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


The interferon system provides a powerful and universal intracellular defense mechanism against viruses. Knockout mice defective in IFN signaling quickly succumb to all kinds of viral infections. Likewise, humans with genetic defects in interferon signaling die of viral disease at an early age. Among the known interferon-induced antiviral mechanisms, the Mx pathway is one of the most powerful. Mx proteins belong to the dynamin superfamily of large GTPases and have direct antiviral activity. They inhibit a wide range of viruses by blocking an early stage of the viral replication cycle. Likewise, the protein kinase R (PKR), and the 2-5 OAS/RNaseL system represent major antiviral pathways and have been extensively studied. Viruses, in turn, have evolved multiple strategies to escape the IFN system. They try to go undetected, suppress IFN synthesis, bind and neutralize secreted IFN molecules, block IFN signaling, or inhibit the action of IFN-induced antiviral proteins. Here, we summarize recent findings about the astonishing interplay of viruses with the IFN response pathway.

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