Members of the Poxviridae family are particularly adept at avoiding the host immune system, encoding a plethora of immunomodulatory proteins that subvert host defense. With their large genome, poxviruses are also useful for studying the effect of exogenous genes on virus-host interactions and immune responses. The insertion of the Th2 cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) into several poxviruses significantly increases the efficiency of the recombinant virus as a pathogen by directly inhibiting the development of Th1 immunity, which is crucial for viral clearance. In an age in which the fear of genetically modified weaponized pathogens exists, the understanding of how to make viruses more pathogenic further blurs the distinction between fundamental academic research and bioweapons development. Here, the extent of immune evasion by IL-4-expressing poxviruses will be explored, as will the consequences of this increased pathogenicity on protective immune responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy