Induction of type I interferons (IFNs) by viruses and other pathogens is crucial for innate immunity, and it is mediated by the activation of pattern-recognition receptors, such as Toll-like receptors and cytosolic receptors such as RIG-I and MDA5. The type I IFN induction is primarily controlled at the gene transcriptional level, wherein a family of transcription factors, interferon regulatory factors (IRFs), plays central roles. Here, we summarize the recent studies on IRFs, providing a paradigm of how genes are ingeniously regulated during immune responses. We also consider some evolutional aspects on the IFN-IRF system.
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