Immunomodulation by viruses: The myxoma virus story

Piers Nash, John Barrett, Cao Jing-Xin, Sheela Hota-Mitchell, Alshad S. Lalani, Helen Everett, Xu Xiao-Ming, Janine Robichaud, Shawna Hnatiuk, Cheryl Ainslie, Bruce T. Seet, Grant McFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Myxoma virus is a poxvirus pathogen of rabbits that has evolved to replicate successfully in the presence of an active immune response by an infected host. To accomplish this, the virus has developed a variety of strategies to avoid detection by or obstruct specific aspects of the antiviral response whose consolidated action is antagonistic to virus survival. We describe two distinct viral strategies carried out by viral proteins with which myxoma virus subverts the host immune response. The first strategy is the production of virus-encoded proteins known as viroceptors or virokines that mimic host receptors or cytokines. These seek to actively block extracellular immune signals required for effective virus clearance and produce a local environment in the infected tissue that is 'virus friendly'. The second strategy carried out by intracellular viral proteins, seeks to retard the innate antiviral responses such as apoptosis, and hinder attempts by the infected cell to communicate with the cellular arm of the immune system. By studying these viral strategies of immune evasion, the myxoma system can provide insights into virus-host interactions and also provide new insights into the complex immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-120
Number of pages18
JournalImmunological Reviews
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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