IRF7: activation, regulation, modification and function

Genes Immun. 2011 Sep;12(6):399-414. doi: 10.1038/gene.2011.21. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) was originally identified in the context of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, and has since emerged as the crucial regulator of type I interferons (IFNs) against pathogenic infections, which activate IRF7 by triggering signaling cascades from pathogen recognition receptors (PRRs) that recognize pathogenic nucleic acids. Moreover, IRF7 is a multifunctional transcription factor, underscored by the fact that it is associated with EBV latency, in which IRF7 is induced as well as activated by the EBV principal oncoprotein latent membrane protein-1 (LMP1). Aberrant production of type I IFNs is associated with many types of diseases such as cancers and autoimmune disorders. Thus, tight regulation of IRF7 expression and activity is imperative in dictating appropriate type I IFN production for normal IFN-mediated physiological functions. Posttranslational modifications have important roles in regulation of IRF7 activity, exemplified by phosphorylation, which is indicative of its activation. Furthermore, mounting evidence has shed light on the importance of regulatory ubiquitination in activation of IRF7. Albeit these exciting findings have been made in the past decade since its discovery, many questions related to IRF7 remain to be addressed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / genetics*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / metabolism*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-7 / genetics
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-7 / metabolism*
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction
  • Virus Latency


  • IRF7 protein, human
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-7
  • Interferon Type I