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Interleukin-10s encoded by viruses: a remarkable example of independent acquisitions of a cellular gene by viruses and its subsequent evolution in the viral genome

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Ping Ouyang
  • Krzysztof Rakus
  • Steven van Beurden
  • Adrie Westphal
  • Andrew Davison
  • Derek Gatherer
  • Alain Vanderplasschen
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of General Virology
Issue number2
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)245-262
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/11/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Many viruses have evolved strategies to deregulate the host immune system. These strategies include mechanisms to subvert or recruit the host cytokine network. Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a pleiotropic cytokine that has both immunostimulatory and immunosuppressive properties. However, its key features relate mainly to its capacity to exert potent immunosuppressive effects. Several viruses have been shown to up regulate the expression of cellular IL 10 (cIL-10), with, in some cases, enhancement of infection by suppression of immune functions. Other viruses encode functional orthologues of cIL-10, called viral IL-10s (vIL-10s). The present review is devoted to these virokines. To date, vIL-10 orthologues have been reported for 12 members of the family Herpesviridae, two members of the family Alloherpesviridae, and seven members of the family Poxviridae. Study of vIL-10s demonstrated several interesting aspects on the origin and the evolution of these viral genes; such as for example, the existence of multiple (potentially up to 9) independent gene acquisition events at different times during evolution, viral gene acquisition resulting from recombination with cellular genomic DNA or cDNA derived from cellular mRNA, and the evolution of cellular sequence in the viral genome to restrict the biological activities of the viral orthologues to those beneficial for the virus life cycle. In this review, various aspects of the vIL 10s described to date are reviewed, including their genetic organization, protein structure, origin, evolution, biological properties and potential in applied research.