Bacteria, Viruses, and Protists

Virus Basics

Do interferons come in different types?

Yes, different types of interferons in the body help protect against viruses. In 1957, British virologist Alick Isaacs (1921–1967) and Croatian virologist Jean Lindenmann (1924–) identified a group of over substances that were later designated as alpha, beta, and gamma interferons depending on their molecular structure; more recently, two other classes have been discovered—omega and tau. So far, more than twenty kinds of interferon-alpha have been found, along with only one interferon-beta and one inter-feron-gamma identified.

Interferons can be further broken down into type 1 (including interferon-alpha, -beta, -omega, and -tau) and type 2 (interferon-gamma), depending on their amino acid sequence. In general, type 1 interferons make cells resistant to the viral infection; type 2 is responsible for regulating the overall immune system function.


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