URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/irf5/

IRF5 gene

interferon regulatory factor 5

Normal Function

The protein produced from the IRF5 gene, called interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5), acts as a transcription factor, which means that it attaches (binds) to specific regions of DNA and helps control the activity of certain genes. When a virus is recognized in the cell, the IRF5 gene is turned on (activated), which leads to the production of IRF5 protein. The protein binds to specific regions of DNA that regulate the activity of genes that produce interferons and other cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that help fight infection by promoting inflammation and regulating the activity of immune system cells. In particular, interferons control the activity of genes that help block the replication of viruses, and they stimulate the activity of certain immune system cells known as natural killer cells.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

Systemic scleroderma

Several normal variations in the IRF5 gene have been associated with an increased risk of developing systemic scleroderma, which is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the buildup of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the skin and internal organs. Although the IRF5 gene is known to stimulate the immune system in response to viruses, it is unknown how the gene variations contribute to the increased risk of systemic scleroderma. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role in development of the condition.

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Rheumatoid arthritis

MedlinePlus Genetics provides information about Rheumatoid arthritis

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Systemic lupus erythematosus

MedlinePlus Genetics provides information about Systemic lupus erythematosus

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Ulcerative colitis

MedlinePlus Genetics provides information about Ulcerative colitis

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Autoimmune disorders

Studies have associated normal variations in the IRF5 gene with an increased risk of several autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body's tissues and organs. These disorders include systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.

There is some evidence that certain variations of the IRF5 gene are associated with increased activity of the gene and elevated cytokines. However, it is unknown what role, if any, these effects play in the increased risk of autoimmune disorders. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the development of these conditions.

Other Names for This Gene

  • IRF-5
  • SLEB10

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Gene and Variant Databases


  • Allanore Y, Dieude P, Boileau C. Updating the genetics of systemic sclerosis. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2010 Nov;22(6):665-70. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e32833d110a. Review. Citation on PubMed
  • Barnes BJ, Moore PA, Pitha PM. Virus-specific activation of a novel interferon regulatory factor, IRF-5, results in the induction of distinct interferon alpha genes. J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 29;276(26):23382-90. Epub 2001 Apr 12. Citation on PubMed
  • Dieudé P, Guedj M, Wipff J, Avouac J, Fajardy I, Diot E, Granel B, Sibilia J, Cabane J, Mouthon L, Cracowski JL, Carpentier PH, Hachulla E, Meyer O, Kahan A, Boileau C, Allanore Y. Association between the IRF5 rs2004640 functional polymorphism and systemic sclerosis: a new perspective for pulmonary fibrosis. Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Jan;60(1):225-33. doi: 10.1002/art.24183. Citation on PubMed
  • Graham RR, Kozyrev SV, Baechler EC, Reddy MV, Plenge RM, Bauer JW, Ortmann WA, Koeuth T, González Escribano MF; Argentine and Spanish Collaborative Groups, Pons-Estel B, Petri M, Daly M, Gregersen PK, Martín J, Altshuler D, Behrens TW, Alarcón-Riquelme ME. A common haplotype of interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) regulates splicing and expression and is associated with increased risk of systemic lupus erythematosus. Nat Genet. 2006 May;38(5):550-5. Epub 2006 Apr 16. Citation on PubMed
  • Ito I, Kawaguchi Y, Kawasaki A, Hasegawa M, Ohashi J, Hikami K, Kawamoto M, Fujimoto M, Takehara K, Sato S, Hara M, Tsuchiya N. Association of a functional polymorphism in the IRF5 region with systemic sclerosis in a Japanese population. Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Jun;60(6):1845-50. doi: 10.1002/art.24600. Citation on PubMed
  • Radstake TR, Gorlova O, Rueda B, Martin JE, Alizadeh BZ, Palomino-Morales R, Coenen MJ, Vonk MC, Voskuyl AE, Schuerwegh AJ, Broen JC, van Riel PL, van 't Slot R, Italiaander A, Ophoff RA, Riemekasten G, Hunzelmann N, Simeon CP, Ortego-Centeno N, González-Gay MA, González-Escribano MF; Spanish Scleroderma Group, Airo P, van Laar J, Herrick A, Worthington J, Hesselstrand R, Smith V, de Keyser F, Houssiau F, Chee MM, Madhok R, Shiels P, Westhovens R, Kreuter A, Kiener H, de Baere E, Witte T, Padykov L, Klareskog L, Beretta L, Scorza R, Lie BA, Hoffmann-Vold AM, Carreira P, Varga J, Hinchcliff M, Gregersen PK, Lee AT, Ying J, Han Y, Weng SF, Amos CI, Wigley FM, Hummers L, Nelson JL, Agarwal SK, Assassi S, Gourh P, Tan FK, Koeleman BP, Arnett FC, Martin J, Mayes MD. Genome-wide association study of systemic sclerosis identifies CD247 as a new susceptibility locus. Nat Genet. 2010 May;42(5):426-9. doi: 10.1038/ng.565. Epub 2010 Apr 11. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Rullo OJ, Woo JM, Wu H, Hoftman AD, Maranian P, Brahn BA, McCurdy D, Cantor RM, Tsao BP. Association of IRF5 polymorphisms with activation of the interferon alpha pathway. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Mar;69(3):611-7. doi: 10.1136/ard.2009.118315. Epub 2009 Oct 23. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Takaoka A, Yanai H, Kondo S, Duncan G, Negishi H, Mizutani T, Kano S, Honda K, Ohba Y, Mak TW, Taniguchi T. Integral role of IRF-5 in the gene induction programme activated by Toll-like receptors. Nature. 2005 Mar 10;434(7030):243-9. Epub 2005 Jan 23. Citation on PubMed

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