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J Immunol. 1998 Mar 15;160(6):2932-9.

Antiviral activities of individual murine IFN-alpha subtypes in vivo: intramuscular injection of IFN expression constructs reduces cytomegalovirus replication.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Center, Nedlands, Perth.


The IFN-alpha cytokines belong to a multigene family. However, the in vivo biological functions of each of the IFN-alpha subtypes is unknown. Recently, we developed an experimental model in which the tibialis anterior muscles of mice were transfected in situ with naked DNA plasmids encoding an IFN transgene. Here we use this model to investigate the in vivo effect of the expression of three murine IFN-alpha subtypes (A1, A4, and A9) on murine CMV replication in C57BL/6, BALB/c, and A/J mice. CMV was shown to replicate in the tibialis anterior muscles of mice for at least 6 days and induced an inflammatory infiltrate. However, mice expressing the IFN-alpha transgenes showed a marked reduction in the peak titers of virus replication, with less severe inflammation in the muscles compared with control mice that were inoculated with blank vectors. Moreover, mice expressing the IFN-alpha1 transgene had significantly lower CMV titers in the inoculated muscle than mice expressing either the IFN-alpha4 or the IFN-alpha9 transgenes. Furthermore, IFN-alpha/beta receptor knockout mice had markedly higher levels of CMV replication in the tibialis anterior muscles than the wild-type parental strain (129/Sv/Ev) following IFN-alpha1 transgene inoculation, suggesting that the protection observed is due to host cell-mediated IFN signaling. These data provide the first evidence indicating that there are in vivo differences in the antiviral efficacy of the IFN-alpha subtypes.

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