Interferon (IFN)-λ Takes the Helm: Immunomodulatory Roles of Type III IFNs

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Interferon (IFN)-λ Takes the Helm: Immunomodulatory Roles of Type III IFNs

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Title: Interferon (IFN)-λ Takes the Helm: Immunomodulatory Roles of Type III IFNs
Author: Zanoni, Ivan; Granucci, Francesca; Broggi, Achille

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Citation: Zanoni, Ivan, Francesca Granucci, and Achille Broggi. 2017. “Interferon (IFN)-λ Takes the Helm: Immunomodulatory Roles of Type III IFNs.” Frontiers in Immunology 8 (1): 1661. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.01661.
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Abstract: Type III interferons (IFNs) (or IFN-λ) are the latest addition to the IFN family. Even though they share little protein homology with type I IFN, both exhibit remarkable functional similarities: each can be induced in response to viral infections, and both lead to Janus kinases (JAK) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) activation. The JAK/STAT pathway induces antiviral responses and IFN-stimulated gene transcription. However, despite the similarities in their effector functions with type I IFNs, IFN-λ also has a non-redundant role in protecting barrier organs: epithelial cells preferentially produce IFN-λ rather than type I IFNs; and interferon lambda receptor 1 (IFNLR1), the specific receptor for IFN-λ, is highly expressed on cells of epithelial lineage. Thus far, IFN-λ has been considered mainly as an epithelial cytokine, which restricts viral replication in epithelial cells and constitutes an added layer of protection at mucosal sites. However, it is now increasingly recognized that IFNLR1 is expressed broadly, and that immune cells such as neutrophils and dendritic cells also respond to IFN-λ. Moreover, in many in vivo models, IFN-λ modulates immune cell functions and thereby configures itself less as a cytokine that is only specific to the epithelium, and more as a cytokine that directly controls the inflammatory response at mucosal sites. Here, we critically review the recent literature on immune modulatory roles for IFN-λ, and distinguish between the direct and indirect effects of this IFN on immune cell functions in different inflammatory settings.
Published Version: doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.01661
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