Inability of interferon to protect virus-infected cells against lysis by natural killer (NK) cells correlates with NK cell-mediated antiviral effects in vivo

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Pathology; Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) is a natural killer (NK) cell-sensitive virus, whereas lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is an NK cell-resistant virus. Selective depletion of NK cell activity by injection of mice with anti-asialo GM1 antibody enhanced synthesis of MCMV but not that of LCMV when mice were simultaneously infected with the two viruses. This suggests that the NK cell-mediated antiviral effects may depend on target cell susceptibility to NK cell-mediated lysis rather than the ability of a virus to induce a specialized antiviral NK cell. In support of this concept, activated NK cells isolated from either MCMV- or LCMV-infected mice had similar patterns of killing against all targets tested. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) infected with MCMV were less sensitive to lysis by activated NK cells than either uninfected or LCMV-infected MEF. However, when MEF were pretreated with IFN, activated NK cell-mediated lysis against MCMV-infected MEF was undiminished and was much higher (up to fourfold) than that against uninfected MEF, whose sensitivity to lysis was almost totally abolished by IFN pretreatment. LCMV-infected MEF were also protected by IFN against activated NK cell-mediated lysis. During infection, the virus-induced IFN may protect uninfected and LCMV-infected cells from IFN-activated, NK cell-mediated lysis, but MCMV-infected cells may remain sensitive to lysis. This could explain how NK cells play a role in resistance to MCMV but not LCMV.


J Immunol. 1985 Nov;135(5):3537-41.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

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Link to article in PubMed

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