PerspectiveImmunology

Interfering with interferons

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Science  16 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6219, pp. 233-234
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5056

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Summary

Living organisms must resist viral infection. In mammals, both infected cells and innate immune cells release signals (cytokines) that program the infected cells for antiviral defense, as well as alert neighboring cells that trouble is afoot. These signals—exemplified by the type I (α and β), type II (γ), and type III (λ) interferons (IFNs)—control the mammalian response against the vast majority of viruses. The host's control of an enteric pathogen, rotavirus, requires type III IFNs (1, 2). On page 269 and 266 of this issue, Nice (3) and Baldridge (4), respectively, show that protection provided by λ IFNs is generalizable to another enteric pathogen, norovirus. Notably, this protection is independent from the adaptive immune response, which has long thought to be absolutely required for clearing viral infection.