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

Isabelle Marié, Joan E. Durbin, David E. Levy

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Interferon (IFN) genes are among the earliest transcriptional responses to virus infection of mammalian cells. Although the regulation of the IFNβ gene has been well characterized, the induction of the large family of IFNα genes has remained obscure. We report that the IFNα genes can be divided into two groups: an immediate-early response gene (IFNα4) 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 IFNα2, 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 IFNα4 or IFNβ, 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 IFNα gene set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6660-6669
Number of pages10
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 16 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


  • IRF3
  • IRF7
  • Interferon
  • Phosphorylation
  • Stat1


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