The biologically active dimer is formed by anti-parallel inter-locking of the two monomers as shown below. In the cartoon model, one monomer is shown in red, the other in blue.
The structural models shown above (see ) are all shortened at their C-termini by 17 amino acids. Full length IFN-γ is 143 amino acids in length, the models are 126 amino acids in length. Affinity for the glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate resides solely within the deleted sequence of 17 amino acids.
IFN-γ has antiviral, immunoregulatory, and anti-tumour properties. It alters transcription in up to 30 genes producing a variety of physiological and cellular responses. Amongst the effects are:
Activation by IFN-γ is achieved by its interaction with a heterodimeric receptor consisting of IFNGR1 & IFNGR2 (interferon gamma receptors). IFN-γ binding to the receptor activates the JAK-STAT pathway. In addition, IFN-γ activates APCs and promotes Th1 differentiation by upregulating the transcription factor T-bet.
IFN-γ is the hallmark cytokine of Th1 cells (whereas Th2 cells produce IL-4 and Th17 cells produce IL-17). NK cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells also produce IFN-γ. IFN-γ suppresses osteoclast formation by rapidly degrading the RANK adaptor protein TRAF6 in the RANK-RANKL signaling pathway, which otherwise stimulates the production of NFκB.
Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that Diindolylmethane (DIM), a naturally occurring compound found in Brassica vegetables, upon oral consumption, is a direct and potent activator of Interferon-Gamma production and sensitivity within the body leading the way for the study of this compound as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer therapeutic. As this is a dietary compound found in edible vegetables, this has caused a lot of excitement in the immunology field. This compound has also been shown to synergize with Interferon-Gamma in the expression and potentiation of the MHC-I Complex, leading to its study as a possible adjuvant to Interferon-gamma therapeutic models.