PloS one

Interferon-induced genes of the expanded IFIT family show conserved antiviral activities in non-mammalian species.

PMID 24950240


Interferon-induced proteins with tetratricopeptide repeats (IFITs) are involved in the protective response to viral infection, although the precise mechanism of IFITs for reducing viral proliferation is currently unknown. The interaction with the translation initiation factor eIF-3 or viral proteins and the sequestering of viral RNA have been proposed as potential antiviral functions for these proteins. In humans, four members of this family have been characterized. Nevertheless, information about these proteins in fish is almost non-existent. Exploiting the conservation of synteny between human and zebrafish genomes, we have identified ten members of the IFIT family located on four different chromosomes. The induction of these genes was examined both in vitro and in vivo after interferon (IFN) administration and rhabdovirus challenge. Whereas an induction of IFIT genes was observed after interferon treatments (IFNΦ1, IFNΦ2 and IFNΦ3), the viral infection did not affect these IFN-induced genes in vitro, and even reduced the IFN-induced expression of these genes. The response was largely different in vivo, with a broad up-regulation of IFIT genes after viral challenge. In addition, three selected IFITs were cloned in an expression vector and microinjected into zebrafish larvae to examine the protective effect of IFITs upon viral infection. Reduction in the mortality rate was observed confirming a conserved antiviral function in non-mammalian species.