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Visualizing the Selectivity and Dynamics of Interferon Signaling In Vivo

Interferons (IFN) are pleiotropic cytokines essential for defense against infection, but the identity and tissue distribution of IFN-responsive cells in vivo are poorly defined. In this study, we generate a mouse strain capable of reporting IFN-signaling activated by all three types of IFNs and investigate the spatio-temporal dynamics and identity of IFN-responding cells following IFN injection and influenza virus infection. Despite ubiquitous expression of IFN receptors, cellular responses to IFNs are highly heterogenous in vivo and are determined by anatomical site, cell type, cellular preference to individual IFNs, and activation status. Unexpectedly, type I and II pneumocytes, the primary target of influenza infection, exhibit striking differences in the strength and temporal dynamics of IFN signaling associated with differential susceptibility to the viral infection. Our findings suggest that time- and cell-type-dependent integration of distinct IFN signals govern the specificity and magnitude of IFN responses in vivo.

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