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EMBO J. 1998 Nov 16;17(22):6660-9.

Differential viral induction of distinct interferon-alpha genes by positive feedback through interferon regulatory factor-7.

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Department of Pathology and Kaplan Comprehensive Cancer Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Interferon (IFN) genes are among the earliest transcriptional responses to virus infection of mammalian cells. Although the regulation of the IFNbeta gene has been well characterized, the induction of the large family of IFNalpha genes has remained obscure. We report that the IFNalpha genes can be divided into two groups: an immediate-early response gene (IFNalpha4) which is induced rapidly and without the need for ongoing protein synthesis; and a set of genes that display delayed induction, consisting of at least IFNalpha2, 5, 6 and 8, which are induced more slowly and require cellular protein synthesis. One protein that must be synthesized for induction of the delayed gene set is IFN itself, presumably IFNalpha4 or IFNbeta, which stimulates the Jak-Stat pathway through the IFN receptor, resulting in activation of the transcription factor interferon-stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3). Among the IFN-stimulated genes induced through this positive feedback loop is the IFN regulatory factor (IRF) protein, IRF7. Induction of IRF7 protein in response to IFN and its subsequent activation by phosphorylation in response to virus-specific signals, involving two C-terminal serine residues, are required for induction of the delayed IFNalpha gene set.

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