Discovering antiviral restriction factors and pathways using genetic screens

Chloe E Jones, Wenfang S Tan, Finn Grey, David J Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Viral infections activate the powerful interferon (IFN) response that induces the expression of several hundred IFN stimulated genes (ISGs). The principal role of this extensive response is to create an unfavourable environment for virus replication and to limit spread; however, untangling the biological consequences of this large response is complicated. In addition to a seemingly high degree of redundancy, several ISGs are usually required in combination to limit infection as individual ISGs often have low to moderate antiviral activity. Furthermore, what ISG or combination of ISGs are antiviral for a given virus is usually not known. For these reasons, and since the function(s) of many ISGs remains unexplored, genome-wide approaches are well placed to investigate what aspects of this response result in an appropriate, virus-specific phenotype. This review discusses the advances screening approaches have provided for the study of host defence mechanisms, including clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9), ISG expression libraries and RNA interference (RNAi) technologies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021


  • Innate immunity
  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • genome-wide screens
  • RNAi
  • antiviral immunity
  • interferon


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