Type I IFN (IFN-I) is thought to be rapidly internalized and degraded following binding to its receptor and initiation of signaling. However, many studies report the persistent effects mediated by IFN-I for days or even weeks, both ex vivo and in vivo. These long-lasting effects are attributed to downstream signaling molecules or induced effectors having a long half-life, particularly in specific cell types. Here, we describe a mechanism explaining the long-term effects of IFN-I. Following receptor binding, IFN-I is siloed into endosomal compartments. These intracellular “IFN silos” persist for days and can be visualized by fluorescence and electron microscopy. However, they are largely dormant functionally, due to IFN-I-induced negative regulators. By contrast, in individuals lacking these negative regulators, such as ISG15 or USP18, this siloed IFN-I can continue to signal from within the endosome. This mechanism may underlie the long-term effects of IFN-I therapy and may contribute to the pathophysiology of type I interferonopathies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17510-17512
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number30
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2020


  • Cytokine retention
  • Endosome
  • Type I interferon


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