Interferon antagonists encoded by SARS-CoV-2 at a glance

Jung Hyun Lee, Lennart Koepke, Frank Kirchhoff, Konstantin M.J. Sparrer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The innate immune system is a powerful barrier against invading pathogens. Interferons (IFNs) are a major part of the cytokine-mediated anti-viral innate immune response. After recognition of a pathogen by immune sensors, signaling cascades are activated that culminate in the release of IFNs. These activate cells in an autocrine or paracrine fashion eventually setting cells in an anti-viral state via upregulation of hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). To evade the anti-viral effect of the IFN system, successful viruses like the pandemic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) evolved strategies to counteract both IFN induction and signaling. In fact, more than half of the about 30 proteins encoded by SARS-CoV-2 target the IFN system at multiple levels to escape IFN-mediated restriction. Here, we review recent insights into the molecular mechanisms used by SARS-CoV-2 proteins to suppress IFN production and the establishment of an anti-viral state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-131
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Microbiology and Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Immune evasion
  • Innate immunity
  • Interferon
  • SARS-CoV-2


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