The interferons and their receptors--distribution and regulation.

Article Details


de Weerd NA, Nguyen T

The interferons and their receptors--distribution and regulation.

Immunol Cell Biol. 2012 May;90(5):483-91. doi: 10.1038/icb.2012.9. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

PubMed ID
22410872 [ View in PubMed

The interferons (IFNs) were originally described over 50 years ago, identified by their ability to confer viral resistance to cells. We now know that they are much more than just anti-viral cytokines collectively having roles in both innate and adaptive immune responses, in tumor surveillance and defense, and modulation of immune cell function. Three types of IFN have now been described, simply referred to as type I, II and III. Distinguishable by the unique receptors that they rely on for signal transduction, the three types of IFN have specific and varied roles in the maintenance of human health and defense against pathogens. In mounting an IFN-mediated immune response, the human body has developed the ability to regulate IFN-mediated signal transduction. Like all cytokines, the ability of a cell to respond to IFN is completely dependent on the presence of its cognate receptor on the surface of the target cell. Thus, one of the major mechanisms used by the human body to regulate the strength and duration of the IFN response is through regulation of receptor levels, thereby altering the cytokine-specific responsiveness of the target cell. This review will discuss the receptor system utilized by the type I IFNs and compare it with that of the type II and III IFNs, which also regulate immune responses through controlling receptor level on the cell surface.

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