The Discovery of the Antiviral Resistance Gene Mx: A Story of Great Ideas, Great Failures, and Some Success

Annu Rev Virol. 2018 Sep 29;5(1):33-51. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-092917-043525. Epub 2018 Jun 29.


The discovery of the Mx gene-dependent, innate resistance of mice against influenza virus was a matter of pure chance. Although the subsequent analysis of this antiviral resistance was guided by straightforward logic, it nevertheless led us into many blind alleys and was full of surprising turns and twists. Unexpectedly, this research resulted in the identification of one of the first interferon-stimulated genes and provided a new view of interferon action. It also showed that in many species, MX proteins have activities against a broad range of viruses. To this day, Mx research continues to flourish and to provide insights into the never-ending battle between viruses and their hosts.

Keywords: HIV; Mx; Mx-transgenic animals; dynamin-like large GTPase; influenza virus; interferon; myxovirus resistance gene.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / history*
  • Disease Resistance*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • Myxovirus Resistance Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viruses / immunology*


  • Myxovirus Resistance Proteins
  • Interferons