Vertebrate cells activate multiple signaling modules upon virus infection to eliminate the invading pathogen and to prevent the establishment of a persistent infection. A major immediate response pathway is controlled by the RNA helicases RIG-I and MDA5, which, after recognition of viral nucleic acids, signal induction of the interferon (IFN)-α/β cytokine family that upregulates numerous antiviral effector proteins. Virulent viruses, in contrast, have learned during co-evolution with their hosts to manipulate or avoid this response in order to prevail in a repulsive environment. Focusing on the influenza viruses and their IFN-antagonistic NS1 proteins, we summarize recent progress in this rapidly evolving field at the intersection of virology and immunobiology involving studies of how viral pathogens induce and sabotage cellular defenses.
©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York