Multifaceted Antiviral Actions of Interferon-stimulated Gene Products

  • Birgit Strobl
  • Nicole R. Leitner
  • Mathias Müller


Interferons (IFNs) are extremely powerful cytokines for the host defence against viral infections. Binding of IFNs to their receptors activates the JAK/STAT signalling pathway with the Janus kinases JAK1, 2 and TYK2 and the signal transducer and activators of transcription (STAT) 1 and STAT2. Depending on the cellular setting, additional STATs (STAT3-6) and additional signalling pathways are activated. The actions of IFNs on infected cells and the surrounding tissue are mediated by the induction of several hundred IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). Since the cloning of the first ISGs, considerable progress has been made in describing antiviral effector proteins and their many modes of action. Effector proteins individually target distinct steps in the viral life cycle, including blocking virus entry, inhibition of viral transcription and translation, modification of viral nucleic acids and proteins and, interference with virus assembly and budding. Novel pathways of viral inhibition are constantly being elucidated and, additionally, unanticipated functions of known antiviral effector proteins are discovered. Herein, we outline IFN-induced antiviral pathways and review recent developments in this fascinating area of research.


Antiviral Activity West Nile Virus Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Mouse Mammary Tumour Virus Hepatitis Delta Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


For virus abbreviations see Table 2


Adenosine deaminase acting on RNA


Apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing catalytic polypeptide


Bone marrow stromal antigen 2




Eukaryotic translation initiation factor


Endoplasmatic reticulum


IFNγ activated sequence


Guanylate binding protein




IFNα/β receptor




IFN-stimulated gene


IFN-induced protein with tetratricopeptide repeats


IFN-induced transmembrane protein


IFN-stimulated gene factor 3


IFN regulatory factor


IFN-stimulated response element


Janus kinase


Promyelocytic leukaemia


2′-5′ oligoadenylate


2-5An synthetase


Melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5


Pathogen-associated molecular pattern


dsRNA-dependent protein kinase


Pattern-recognition receptor


Retinoic acid-inducible protein I

RNase L

Latent ribonuclease




Signal transducer and activator of transcription


Tripartite motif


Tyrosine kinase 2



We apologize for not citing work of authors who made important contributions to the field of interferons and antiviral effector proteins. Due to space limitations we were unable to include as many primary publications as we would have liked, instead we refer to a number of excellent reviews. We are grateful to Rita Stiefvater and Caroline Lassnig for critically reading the manuscript. MM and BS are supported by the Austrian Science fund (FWF SFB-28) and GEN-AU III (“Inflammobiota”) and MM and NL by GEN-AU II/III (“Austrian Network for Functional Genomics of the Mouse”). MM is further supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research (GZ.200.191/1-II/1a/2008 to Biomodels Austria).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Birgit Strobl
    • 1
  • Nicole R. Leitner
    • 1
  • Mathias Müller
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Animal Breeding and GeneticsUniversity of Veterinary Medicine ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Biomodels AustriaUniversity of Veterinary Medicine ViennaViennaAustria

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