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Keywords:

  • antiviral;
  • evasion;
  • inhibition;
  • interferon;
  • virus

Summary

The type I interferon (IFN) system mediates a wide variety of antiviral effects and represents an important first barrier to virus infection. Consequently, viruses have developed an impressive diversity of tactics to circumvent IFN responses. Evasion strategies can involve preventing initial virus detection, via the disruption of the Toll-like receptors or the retinoic acid inducible gene I (RIG-I) -like receptors, or by avoiding the initial production of the ligands recognized by these receptors. An alternative approach is to preclude IFN production by disarming or degrading the transcription factors involved in the expression of IFN, such as interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3)/IRF7, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), or ATF-2/c-jun, or by inducing a general block on host cell transcription. Viruses also oppose IFN signalling, both by disturbing the type I IFN receptor and by impeding JAK/STAT signal transduction upon IFN receptor engagement. In addition, the global expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) can be obstructed via interference with epigenetic signalling, and specific ISGs can also be selectively targeted for inhibition. Finally, some viruses disrupt IFN responses by co-opting negative regulatory systems, whereas others use antiviral mechanisms to their own advantage. Here, we review recent developments in this field.