Differential expression and activity of the porcine type I interferon family

Yongming Sang, Raymond R.R. Rowland, Richard A. Hesse, Frank Blecha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Type I interferons (IFNs) are central to innate and adaptive immunity, and many have unique developmental and physiological functions. However, in most species, only two subtypes, IFN-α and IFN-β, have been well studied. Because of the increasing importance of zoonotic viral diseases and the use of pigs to address human research questions, it is important to know the complete repertoire and activity of porcine type I IFNs. Here we show that porcine type I IFNs comprise at least 39 functional genes distributed along draft genomic sequences of chromosomes 1 and 10. These functional IFN genes are classified into 17 IFN-α subtypes, 11 IFN-δ subtypes, 7 IFN-ω subtypes, and single-subtype subclasses of IFN-αω, IFN-β, IFN-ε, and IFN-κ. We found that porcine type I IFNs have diverse expression profiles and antiviral activities against porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), with activity ranging from 0 to >105 U·ng-1·ml-1. Whereas most IFN-β subtypes retained the greatest antiviral activity against both PRRSV and VSV in porcine and MARC-145 cells, some IFN-δ and IFN-ω subtypes, IFN-β, and IFN-αω differed in their antiviral activity based on target cells and viruses. Several IFNs, including IFN-α7/11, IFN-α2/7, and IFN-δ4, exhibited minimal or no antiviral activity in the tested target cell-virus systems. Thus comparative studies showed that antiviral activity of porcine type I IFNs is virus- and cell-dependent, and IFN-αs are positively correlated with induction of MxA, an IFN-stimulated gene. Collectively, these data provide fundamental genomic information for porcine type I IFNs, information that is necessary for understanding porcine physiological and antiviral responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-258
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparative genomics
  • Innate immunity
  • Pig

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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