The interferon (IFN) family is a subclass of cytokines that are involved in the immune system communication. As signaling proteins, they activate different immunology pathways such as macrophage or natural killer cells up-regulation. More importantly, interferons have the ability to protect cells from viral infection, via different pathways. These proteins get their name from their "interference" activity against viruses.
ProteoGenix offers interferon proteins as well as proteins belonging to their pathways.
About 20 animal interferons have been identified, including a dozen in humans. They have been separated in 3 subclasses.
Type I Interferons contains proteins able to bind to IFN-α/β receptor (IFNAR). The human type I IFNs are IFN-α, IFN-β, IFN-ε, IFN-κ and IFN-ω. These subtypes are produced mostly in specialized cells such as leukocytes for IFN-α or fibroblast for IFN-β.
Type II Interferons are only represented by IFN-γ in humans. They are released by cytotoxic T cells and helper cells. IFN-γ is involved in the regulation of immune response. It can recruit leucocytes to infection location and stimulate macrophages.
Type III Interferons include the human lambda interferons: IFN-λ1, IFN-λ2 and IFN-λ3.
Interferon cascade induces a reduction of protein production in the cell. This way, infected cells produce less material available for the virus than without interferons. They also increase RNAse L levels. This enzyme cleaves RNA strain thus diminishing once more protein production. Interferons enhance major histocompatibility complex (MHC) activity. These molecules are responsible for presentation of pathogens to T-cells and further immune response. This way, immune response is stimulated furthermore by interferons.
IFN, coupled with Janus Kinase (JAK) are also known to be the activator of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) transcription factors that have a role in immune system.
Interferons in therapies
Interferons have already been formulated as drugs in several treatments. Interferon treatment has been suggested in case leukemia and lymphomas. More specifically, IFN-α has been studied in the treatment of melanomas, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. IFN-β1a and IFN-β1b are used in the treatment and control of multiple sclerosis.