Induction of the interferon (IFN)-alpha/beta gene transcription in virus-infected cells is an event central to innate immunity. Mice lacking the transcription factor IRF-3 are more vulnerable to virus infection. In embryonic fibroblasts, virus-induced IFN-alpha/beta gene expression levels are reduced and the spectrum of the IFN-alpha mRNA subspecies altered. Furthermore, cells additionally defective in IRF-7 expression totally fail to induce these genes in response to infections by any of the virus types tested. In these cells, a normal profile of IFN-alpha/beta mRNA induction can be achieved by coexpressing both IRF-3 and IRF-7. These results demonstrate the essential and distinct roles of thetwo factors, which together ensure the transcriptional efficiency and diversity of IFN-alpha/beta genes for the antiviral response.
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