John Libbey Eurotext

Bulletin du Cancer


Interferon : antiviral mechanisms and viral escape Volume 90, issue 2, Février 2003


See all figures

CNRS UMR 5094, établissement français du sang, 240, avenue Emile-Jeanbrau, 34094 Montpellier Cedex 5

15 % of human cancers have virus origin, meaning that viruses are the second cause of cancers after tabagism. The knowledge of antiviral mechanisms is essential for treatment and prevention of infection evolution towards cancers. Interferons (IFNs) are a large family of multifunctional cytokines. They are involved in regulation of cell growth and modulation of immune response. But, all these functions seem to converge toward the most important of them : the antiviral activity. IFN secretion is the first event induced by viral infection, and will act on specific receptors on neighbour cells and prevent their infection by inducing numbers of antiviral genes. Although few of them are well known like the PKR, the 2-5OAS/RNase L pathway and the Mx proteins, many others need extensive studies to understand the wide range of IFN effect. Viruses have evolved to circumvent the IFN antiviral activity, and are able not only to divert the cellular machinery but also to lure the antiviral mechanisms of the host cell. The purpose of this review is to describe the many antiviral pathways and proteins induced by IFNs and to summarize the strategies of viral escape.