Interferon y

Jan Vilcek and Junming Le, Department of Microbiology, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

The cytokine now known as interferon 7 (IFN7) was first described in 1965 by Wheelock as an interferon-like antiviral substance produced by leukocyte cultures stimulated with phytohemagglutinin (PHA). Although in the virus inhibition assay the factor was indistinguishable from IFN, Wheelock noted that, unlike typical IFN, the PHA-induced leukocyte-derived factor was inactivated by exposure to pH 2. Subsequently, other investigators showed that various mitogenic agents can induce the production of a factor with IFN-like antiviral activity in cultures of lymphocytes, especially T cells. In 1973, Youngner and Salvin showed that IFN derived from lymphocyte cultures by mitogenic stimulation is anti-genically distinct from 'classical' IFN and they pro posed to term the former 'type II IFN'. Other investigators used the term 'immune IFN' to describe this IFN-like protein. In 1980, these earlier names were replaced with the term IFN7. At the same rime, the names IFNa and IFNp were introduced for the two antigenically distinct varieties of 'classical' or 'type I' IFN. The human IFN7 protein was first isolated by Yip and colleagues in 1981.

Cloning of the human IFN7 gene by Goeddel and coworkers in 1981 revealed that IFN7 is structurally distinct from the IFNa/p family. (There is a large family of mutually interrelated IFNa/p proteins, each encoded by a separate structural gene.) Likewise, the cellular receptor for IFN7 is distinct from the receptor for IFNa/p.

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