NYMC Faculty Publications

IFN-Induced Cell-Autonomous Immune Mechanisms in the Control of Intracellular Protozoa

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Parasitology Research

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Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology


Vertebrate cells have evolved an elaborate multi-tiered intracellular surveillance system linked to downstream antimicrobial effectors to defend themselves from pathogens. This cellular self-defense system is referred to as cell-autonomous immunity. A wide array of cell-autonomous mechanisms operates to control intracellular pathogens including protozoa such as Toxoplasma gondii. Cell-autonomous immunity consists of antimicrobial defenses that are constitutively active in cells and those that are inducible typically in response to host cell activation. The IFN family of cytokines is an important stimulator of inducible cell-autonomous immunity. There are several hundred interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs); many of them have known roles in inducible cell-autonomous immune mechanisms. The importance of IFN-γ activation of cell-autonomous immunity is evidenced by the fact that many intracellular pathogens have evolved a diversity of molecular mechanisms to inhibit activation of infected cells through the JAK-STAT pathway in response to IFN-γ. The goal of this review is to provide a broad framework for understanding the elaborate system of cell-autonomous immunity that acts as a first line of defense between a host and intracellular parasites.