Interferons (IFNs) are potent antiviral cytokines that inhibit infection by a wide spectrum of viruses by activating the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway. Several IFN-induced antiviral proteins including 2′,5′-oligoadenylate synthetase, dsRNA-activated protein kinase and Mx play a critical role in conferring the antiviral properties of IFN. However, studies have shown that additional antiviral factors are involved in addition to these proteins during IFN-mediated antiviral action. In an effort to characterize these novel antiviral factors, the antiviral mechanism of alpha IFN (IFN-α) against vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) was investigated in human lung epithelial A549 cells. These studies demonstrated that soluble secreted antiviral proteins as the constituents of conditioned medium prepared from IFN-α-treated cells reduced VSV infectivity by more than 2 logs, compared with a 4 log inhibition observed following treatment of cells with IFN-α. The antiviral mechanism of these secreted proteins appeared to act at the level of cellular entry of VSV. Interestingly, the IFN-α-induced antiviral proteins were secreted independently of STAT1 (an essential component of the JAK/STAT pathway), demonstrating that the release of such extracellular soluble antiviral proteins from cells may represent an alternative mechanism of the antiviral defence strategy of IFN towards VSV infection.
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