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Brain region- and cell type-specific role of viperin in neurotropic flavivirus infection
(Anna Överby)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Microbiology in the medical area
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-140287OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-140287DiVA, id: diva2:1146846
Available from: 2017-10-04 Created: 2017-10-04 Last updated: 2018-06-09
In thesis
1. The role of the type I interferons and viperin during neurotropic flavivirus infection
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of the type I interferons and viperin during neurotropic flavivirus infection
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Flaviviruses are globally distributed pathogens that cause millions of human infections annually. One of the most detrimental outcomes of flavivirus infection is encephalitis, which is caused by neurotropic flaviviruses such as West Nile virus (WNV), Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), and Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). The type I interferons (IFNs) are powerful cytokines, and they are known as the first line of defense against viral infection. IFNs are expressed at low or undetectable levels at the basal state, but recognition of invading pathogens triggers a robust IFN response. After synthesis, IFN is secreted and acts in an autocrine or paracrine manner by binding to the interferon-α/β receptor (IFNAR) receptor, which is expressed on the surface of all nucleated cells. Binding to IFNAR mediates a downstream cascade that triggers expression of hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). Some ISGs express signaling molecules to amplify the response while others are potent antiviral proteins that can efficiently limit viral infection. The impact of the type I IFN response in tick-borne flavivirus infection was not previously known. We found that the type I IFN response was crucial for protection of mice against neurotropic infection with tick-borne flaviviruses such as TBEV and Langat virus (LGTV). The response was needed both in the periphery as well as in the central nervous system (CNS), as transgenic mice lacking either peripherally or CNS-located IFNAR both succumbed to LGTV infection. Although we found that the local IFN response within the CNS is essential for protection against lethal LGTV infection, the cells responsible for the local IFN production were not known.

Astrocytes are one of the most abundant cell types within the CNS, but their role in neurotropic flavivirus infection was not fully characterized. In other viral infections, astrocytes are potent IFN producers, thus we were interested in characterizing the role of the type I IFN response in astrocytes during neurotropic flavivirus infection and its contribution to flavivirus pathogenesis. We found that upon flavivirus infection, astrocytes mount a strong type I IFN response that protects neighboring astrocytes from TBEV, JEV, WNV, and ZIKV infection. Furthermore, IFN signaling was found to protect astrocytes from TBEV-induced cytopathic effects. However, the ISGs that mediated these effects were not known.

In vitro studies of viperin, which was discovered in 2001 as an ISG with broad antiviral activity, has shown strong antiviral activity against TBEV, but its role in vivo and mode of action in flavivirus infection was not known. Using mice deficient in viperin, we wanted to determine the role of viperin in flavivirus infection. We found that viperin plays a region-specific role in the brain by controlling LGTV replication in the olfactory bulb and cerebrum. Remarkably, viperin was able to inhibit TBEV replication in primary cortical neurons isolated from the cerebrum but not in granule cell neurons isolated from the cerebellum. Furthermore, IFN treatment failed to compensate for loss of viperin in cortical neurons, indicating that viperin might be the most important ISG against TBEV in cortical neurons. Interestingly, we also found that viperin is needed for the IFN-mediated antiviral response against WNV and ZIKV in cortical neurons. Thus, viperin showed broad but region-specific antiviral mechanisms against different flaviviruses.

Although viperin has been shown to inhibit many viruses, the molecular antiviral mechanism is not clear and appears to differ between viruses. We performed a co-immunoprecipitation (CoIP) screen to identify TBEV proteins that could interact with viperin, and prM, E, NS2A, NS2B, and NS3 were identified. Interaction of viperin with NS3 resulted in degradation of the viral protein. We screened NS3 of JEV, yellow fever virus (YFV), ZIKV, and TBEV. Interestingly, although all NS3 proteins tested interacted with viperin, only those of ZIKV, and TBEV were significantly degraded by viperin. The degradation of NS3 correlated well with the antiviral activity of viperin, as only TBEV and ZIKV were inhibited.

In summary, this work revealed the importance of the local type I IFN response in the brain during neurotropic infections by flaviviruses. We identified astrocytes to be an important IFN producer within the CNS during neurotropic flavivirus infection. Astrocytes release type I IFN quickly after viral infection, and this interferon protects neighboring neurons and astrocytes from infection. Furthermore, viperin, a very potent antiviral ISG, is highly expressed in astrocytes and it is essential for controlling viral replication and mediating viral clearance in both neurons and astrocytes of the cerebrum. We also found that viperin specifically targeted the NS3 proteins of TBEV and ZIKV for degradation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2017. p. 66
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1921
Keywords
TBEV, Flavivirus, Interferon, Neurotropic, Viperin
National Category
Microbiology in the medical area
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-140290 (URN)978-91-7601-780-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-10-27, Hörsal D Unod T9, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-10-06 Created: 2017-10-04 Last updated: 2018-10-29Bibliographically approved

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