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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2013 Aug;16(4):493-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2013.04.005. Epub 2013 May 28.

An evolutionary perspective on the broad antiviral specificity of MxA.

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Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98185, USA.


Germ line encoded antiviral defenses in vertebrate cells tend to be either broadly acting factors that exploit general features of viral replication or effectors with strong pathogen preference by virtue of specific recognition of viral proteins. The Mx GTPases, however, are atypical since they have broad antiviral activity against a wide range of RNA and DNA viruses despite specifically targeting different proteins across virus families. This review presents recent advances in understanding the biochemical properties and evolution of the primate ortholog MxA, and discusses how this information begins to provide molecular insights into the mechanisms behind the intriguing conundrum of how MxA is able to engage a diversity of viral proteins yet elicit antiviral breadth.

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