Interferons: Tug of War Between Bacteria and Their Host

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Type I and III interferons (IFNs) are archetypally antiviral cytokines that are induced in response to recognition of foreign material by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). Though their roles in anti-viral immunity are well established, recent evidence suggests that they are also crucial mediators of inflammatory processes during bacterial infections. Type I and III IFNs restrict bacterial infection in vitro and in some in vivo contexts. IFNs mainly function through the induction of hundreds of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). These include PRRs and regulators of antimicrobial signaling pathways. Other ISGs directly restrict bacterial invasion or multiplication within host cells. As they regulate a diverse range of anti-bacterial host responses, IFNs are an attractive virulence target for bacterial pathogens. This review will discuss the current understanding of the bacterial effectors that manipulate the different stages of the host IFN response: IFN induction, downstream signaling pathways, and target ISGs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number624094
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Early online date10 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2021


  • Interferon
  • Bacteria
  • Effector


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