Antiviral effect of interferon lambda against West Nile virus

Antiviral Res. 2009 Jul;83(1):53-60. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2009.03.006. Epub 2009 Apr 1.


Type III interferons (IFN), IFN-lambda or IL-28/29, are new members of the IFN super-family. Except for using distinct receptors, type I and type III IFNs share the same major post receptor signaling components to activate the transcription of a similar set of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). To examine the antiviral effects of the new type IFNs against West Nile virus (WNV), we compared the antiviral effects of IFN-alpha and IFN-lambda on WNV virus-like particle (VLP) infection and replicon replication in Huh7.5 and Hela cells. The results revealed that (i) both types of IFNs could efficiently prevent the WNV infection, but IFN-alpha demonstrated a stronger antiviral efficacy; (ii) WNV genome replication in VLP-infected cells and replicon-containing cell lines could only be inhibited by IFN-alpha, but not IFN-lambda; (iii) in agreement with the observed antiviral effects, only IFN-lambda-induced activation of JAK-STAT signaling pathway and induction of ISG expression were completely inhibited in WNV replicon-containing cell lines, but IFN-alpha signal transduction was either unaffected or only partially inhibited in Huh7.5 or Hela cells by the virus. Hence, the differential inhibition of WNV on IFN-alpha and IFN-lambda signal transduction implies that the receptors of the two types of IFNs, but not the common post receptor signaling components, could be selectively targeted either directly by WNV nonstructural proteins or indirectly by the cellular responses induced by the virus infection to inhibit the signal transduction of the cytokines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology
  • Interferons
  • Interleukins / pharmacology*
  • Virus Replication / drug effects
  • West Nile virus / drug effects*
  • West Nile virus / physiology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • IFNL1 protein, human
  • IFNL2 protein, human
  • IFNL3 protein, human
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interleukins
  • Interferons