Proteins also provide nonspecific defenses. About 20 different proteins make up the complement system. Complement proteins circulate in the blood and become active when they encounter certain pathogens. Some of these proteins form a ring-shaped structure that punctures the membranes of infected cells, causing the cells to die. Another nonspecific defense is interferon, a protein released by cells infected with viruses. Interferon causes nearby cells to make a protein that helps them resist viral infection.

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