Several recent studies have revealed previously unknown complexity of the amphibian interferon (IFN) system. Being unique in vertebrate animals, amphibians not only conserve and multiply the fish-like intron-containing IFN genes, but also rapidly evolve amniote-like intronless IFN genes in each tested species. We postulate that the amphibian IFN system confers an essential model to study vertebrate immune evolution in molecular and functional diversity to cope with unprecedented pathophysiological requirement during terrestrial adaption. Studies so far have ascribed a potential role of these IFNs in immune regulation against intracellular pathogens, particularly viruses; however, many knowledge gaps remain elusive. Based on recent reports about IFN’s multifunctional properties in regulation of animal physiological and defense responses, we interpret that amphibian IFNs may evolve novel function pertinent to their superior molecular diversity. Such new function revealed by the emerging studies about antifungal and developmental regulation of amphibian IFNs will certainly promote our understanding of immune evolution in vertebrates to address current pathogenic threats causing amphibian decline.
Tian, Y.; Jennings, J.; Gong, Y.; Sang, Y. Xenopus Interferon Complex: Inscribing the Amphibiotic Adaption and Species-Specific Pathogenic Pressure in Vertebrate Evolution? Cells 2020, 9, 67. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9010067