The efficacy of interferon in antiviral protection of newborn mice differing at the Mx locus was investigated. Adult mice bearing the allele Mx exhibit a high degree of specific resistance toward lethal challenge with influenza viruses. In contrast, newborn Mx carriers are virtually as susceptible to influenza viruses as newborn mice devoid of Mx. Resistance can be abrogated by treating adult animals with anti-interferon serum. Here, we provide direct evidence of a virus-specific effect of interferon in vivo: newborn mice carrying the resistance gene Mx could be protected against lethal influenza virus infection with doses of interferon that were not protective in the absence of Mx. The efficacy of interferon towards a picornavirus (encephalomyocarditis virus) and a rhabdovirus (vesicular stomatitis virus) was independent of Mx.

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