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1.  Refractoriness of interferon-beta signaling through NOD1 pathway in mouse respiratory epithelial cells using the anticancer xanthone compound 
AIM: To explore the possibility that nucleotide oligomerization domain 1 (NOD1) pathway involved in refractoriness of interferon-β signaling in mouse respiratory epithelial cells induced by the anticancer xanthone compound, 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA).
METHODS: C10 mouse bronchial epithelial cells were grown in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum, 2 mmol/L glutamine, 100 units/mL penicillin, 100 g/mL streptomycin. Pathogen-free female BALB/c mice were used to explore the mechanisms of refractoriness of interferon-signaling. Mouse thioglycollate-elicited peritoneal macrophages, bone marrow derived macrophages and bone marrow derived dendritic cells were collected and cultured. The amount of interferon (IFN)-inducible protein-10 (IP10/CXCL10), macrophage chemotactic protein (MCP1/CCL2) and interleukin (IL)-6 secreted by cells activated by DMXAA was quantified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits according to the instructions of the manufacturers. Total RNA was isolated from cells or nasal epithelium with RNeasy Plus Mini Kit, and cDNA was synthesized. Gene expression was checked using Applied Biosystems StepOne Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction System. Transfection of small interfering RNA (siRNA) control, NOD1 duplexed RNA oligonucleotides, and high-mobility group box 1/2/3 (HMGB1/2/3) siRNA was performed using siRNA transfection reagent.
RESULTS: DMXAA activates IFN-β pathway with high level of IFN-β dependent antiviral genes including 2’, 5’-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 and myxovirus resistance 1 in mouse thioglycollate-elicited peritoneal macrophages, bone marrow derived macrophages and bone marrow derived dendritic cells. Activation of IFN-β by DMXAA involved in NOD1, but not HMGB1/2/3 signal pathway demonstrated by siRNA. NOD1 pathway plays an important role in refractoriness of IFN-β signaling induced by DMXAA in mouse C10 respiratory epithelial cells and BALB/c mice nasal epithelia. These data indicate that DMXAA is not well adapted to the intrinsic properties of IFN-β signaling. Approaches to restore sensitivity of IFN-β signaling by find other xanthone compounds may function similarly, could enhance the efficacy of protection from influenza pneumonia and potentially in other respiratory viral infections.
CONCLUSION: NOD1 pathway may play an important role in refractoriness of IFN-β signaling in mouse respiratory epithelial cells induced by DMXAA.
doi:10.4331/wjbc.v4.i2.18
PMCID: PMC3652647  PMID: 23710296
Innate immunity; Interferon; Refractoriness; Xanthone; Bronchial epithelium
2.  The Chemotherapeutic Agent DMXAA as a Unique IRF3-Dependent Type-2 Vaccine Adjuvant 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60038.
5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA), a potent type I interferon (IFN) inducer, was evaluated as a chemotherapeutic agent in mouse cancer models and proved to be well tolerated in human cancer clinical trials. Despite its multiple biological functions, DMXAA has not been fully characterized for the potential application as a vaccine adjuvant. In this report, we show that DMXAA does act as an adjuvant due to its unique property as a soluble innate immune activator. Using OVA as a model antigen, DMXAA was demonstrated to improve on the antigen specific immune responses and induce a preferential Th2 (Type-2) response. The adjuvant effect was directly dependent on the IRF3-mediated production of type-I-interferon, but not IL-33. DMXAA could also enhance the immunogenicity of influenza split vaccine which led to significant increase in protective responses against live influenza virus challenge in mice compared to split vaccine alone. We propose that DMXAA can be used as an adjuvant that targets a specific innate immune signaling pathway via IRF3 for potential applications including vaccines against influenza which requires a high safety profile.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060038
PMCID: PMC3605442  PMID: 23555875
3.  Suppression of Interferon Lambda Signaling by SOCS-1 Results in Their Excessive Production during Influenza Virus Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(1):e1003845.
Innate cytokine response provides the first line of defense against influenza virus infection. However, excessive production of cytokines appears to be critical in the pathogenesis of influenza virus. Interferon lambdas (IFN-λ) have been shown to be overproduced during influenza virus infection, but the precise pathogenic processes of IFN-λ production have yet to be characterized. In this report, we observed that influenza virus induced robust expression of IFN-λ in alveolar epithelial cells (A549) mainly through a RIG-I-dependent pathway, but IFN-λ-induced phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription protein 1 (STAT1) was dramatically inhibited in the infected cells. Remarkably, influenza virus infection induced robust expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS-1), leading to inhibition of STAT1 activation. Interestingly, the virus-induced SOCS-1 expression was cytokine-independent at early stage of infection both in vitro and in vivo. Using transgenic mouse model and distinct approaches altering the expression of SOCS-1 or activation of STAT signaling, we demonstrated that disruption of the SOCS-1 expression or expression of constitutively active STAT1 significantly reduced the production of IFN-λ during influenza virus infection. Furthermore, we revealed that disruption of IFN-λ signaling pathway by increased SOCS-1 protein resulted in the activation of NF-κB and thereby enhanced the IFN-λ expression. Together, these data imply that suppression of IFN-λ signaling by virus-induced SOCS-1 causes an adaptive increase in IFN-λ expression by host to protect cells against the viral infection, as a consequence, leading to excessive production of IFN-λ with impaired antiviral response.
Author Summary
Influenza virus infection triggers innate immune responses. However, aberrant host immune responses such as excessive production of cytokines contribute to the pathogenesis of influenza virus. Type III interferons (IFN-λ) constitute the major innate immune response to influenza virus infection, but the precise pathogenic processes of IFN-λ production and mechanistic underpinnings are not well understood. In this study, we report that influenza virus induces robust IFN-λ expression mainly through a RIG-I-dependent pathway, but signaling activated by IFN-λ was dramatically inhibited by virus-induced SOCS-1. Importantly, we found that disruption of the SOCS-1 expression or forced activation of STAT1 significantly reduced the expression of IFN-λ in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that suppression of IFN-λ signaling by SOCS-1 results in their excessive production during influenza virus infection. Furthermore, our experiments revealed that disruption of IFN-λ signaling pathway resulted in the activation of NF-κB that governs the IFN-λ expression. Together these findings, we propose that impaired antiviral response of IFN-λ due to the inhibitory effect of SOCS-1 causes an adaptive increase in IFN-λ expression by host to protect cells against the viral infection. This is a novel mechanism that may be critical in the pathogenesis of the influenza virus strains that induce hypercytokinemia.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003845
PMCID: PMC3879354  PMID: 24391501
4.  Interferon-λ Contributes to Innate Immunity of Mice against Influenza A Virus but Not against Hepatotropic Viruses 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(9):e1000151.
Virus-infected cells secrete a broad range of interferon (IFN) subtypes which in turn trigger the synthesis of antiviral factors that confer host resistance. IFN-α, IFN-β and other type I IFNs signal through a common universally expressed cell surface receptor, whereas IFN-λ uses a distinct receptor complex for signaling that is not present on all cell types. Since type I IFN receptor-deficient mice (IFNAR10/0) exhibit greatly increased susceptibility to various viral diseases, it remained unclear to which degree IFN-λ might contribute to innate immunity. To address this issue we performed influenza A virus infections of mice which carry functional alleles of the influenza virus resistance gene Mx1 and which, therefore, develop a more complete innate immune response to influenza viruses than standard laboratory mice. We demonstrate that intranasal administration of IFN-λ readily induced the antiviral factor Mx1 in mouse lungs and efficiently protected IFNAR10/0 mice from lethal influenza virus infection. By contrast, intraperitoneal application of IFN-λ failed to induce Mx1 in the liver of IFNAR10/0 mice and did not protect against hepatotropic virus infections. Mice lacking functional IFN-λ receptors were only slightly more susceptible to influenza virus than wild-type mice. However, mice lacking functional receptors for both IFN-α/β and IFN-λ were hypersensitive and even failed to restrict usually non-pathogenic influenza virus mutants lacking the IFN-antagonistic factor NS1. Interestingly, the double-knockout mice were not more susceptible against hepatotropic viruses than IFNAR10/0 mice. From these results we conclude that IFN-λ contributes to inborn resistance against viral pathogens infecting the lung but not the liver.
Author Summary
The contribution of IFN-λ to innate immunity against virus-induced diseases has remained unclear to date as appropriate mouse models were not available. We now present evidence that IFN-λ is involved in the antiviral defense. Mice lacking functional IFN-λ receptors were only slightly more susceptible to influenza virus than wild-type mice, but intranasal administration of IFN-λ efficiently protected IFN-α/β receptor-deficient mice from lethal influenza virus infection and induced the antiviral factor Mx1 in lungs. Mice lacking functional receptors for both IFN-α/β and IFN-λ were hypersensitive and failed to restrict even usually non-pathogenic influenza virus mutants lacking the IFN-antagonistic factor NS1. By contrast, intraperitoneal application of IFN-λ failed to induce Mx1 in the liver of mice and did not protect against hepatotropic viruses. Furthermore, double-knockout mice were not more susceptible against hepatotropic viruses than IFN-α/β receptor-deficient mice, indicating that IFN-λ contributes to resistance against viral pathogens infecting the lung but not the liver.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000151
PMCID: PMC2522277  PMID: 18787692
5.  The Critical Role of Notch Ligand Delta-like 1 in the Pathogenesis of Influenza A Virus (H1N1) Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(11):e1002341.
Influenza A viral infections have been identified as the etiologic agents for historic pandemics, and contribute to the annual mortality associated with acute viral pneumonia. While both innate and acquired immunity are important in combating influenza virus infection, the mechanism connecting these arms of the immune system remains unknown. Recent data have indicated that the Notch system is an important bridge between antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and T cell communication circuits and plays a central role in driving the immune system to overcome disease. In the present study, we examine the role of Notch signaling during influenza H1N1 virus infection, focusing on APCs. We demonstrate here that macrophages, but not dendritic cells (DCs), increased Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (Dll1) expression following influenza virus challenge. Dll1 expression on macrophages was dependent on retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I) induced type-I IFN pathway, and not on the TLR3-TRIF pathway. We also found that IFNα-Receptor knockout mice failed to induce Dll1 expression on lung macrophages and had enhanced mortality during influenza virus infection. Our results further showed that specific neutralization of Dll1 during influenza virus challenge induced higher mortality, impaired viral clearance, and decreased levels of IFN-γ. In addition, we blocked Notch signaling by using γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI), a Notch signaling inhibitor. Intranasal administration of GSI during influenza infection also led to higher mortality, and higher virus load with excessive inflammation and an impaired production of IFN-γ in lungs. Moreover, Dll1 expression on macrophages specifically regulates IFN-γ levels from CD4+and CD8+T cells, which are important for anti-viral immunity. Together, the results of this study show that Dll1 positively influences the development of anti-viral immunity, and may provide mechanistic approaches for modifying and controlling the immune response against influenza H1N1 virus infection.
Author Summary
Influenza viruses cause annual epidemics and occasional pandemics that have claimed the lives of millions. Both innate and acquired immunity are essential for protection against influenza virus, and Notch and Notch ligands provide a key bridge between innate and acquired immunity. However, the role of Notch system during influenza virus infection is unknown. Here, we show that Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (Dll1) expression was up-regulated in influenza virus H1N1 challenged macrophages, and was dependent on both retinoic-acid–inducible protein I (RIG-I) and IFNα receptor (IFNαR)-mediated pathways. IFNαR-deficient mice challenged with influenza virus in vivo also display a profoundly impaired Dll1 expression with increased mortality and abrogated IFN-γ production. Treatment of WT mice during influenza infection, with either neutralizing antibodies specific for Dll1 or a γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI), which blocks Notch signaling, resulted in increased mortality, impaired viral clearance, and lower IFN-γ production. In addition, Dll1 specifically regulated IFN-γ production from both CD4+and CD8+T cells in vitro. Together, these results suggest that Notch signaling through macrophage-dependent Dll1 is critical in providing an anti-viral response during influenza infection by linking innate and acquired immunity.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002341
PMCID: PMC3207886  PMID: 22072963
6.  The Role of Alpha/Beta and Gamma Interferons in Development of Immunity to Influenza A Virus in Mice 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(9):3996-4003.
During influenza virus infection innate and adaptive immune defenses are activated to eliminate the virus and thereby bring about recovery from illness. Both arms of the adaptive immune system, antibody neutralization of free virus and termination of intracellular virus replication by antiviral cytotoxic T cells (CTLs), play pivotal roles in virus elimination and protection from disease. Innate cytokine responses, such as alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β) or IFN-γ, can have roles in determining the rate of virus replication in the initial stages of infection and in shaping the initial inflammatory and downstream adaptive immune responses. The effect of these cytokines on the replication of pneumotropic influenza A virus in the respiratory tract and in the regulation of adaptive antiviral immunity was examined after intranasal infection of mice with null mutations in receptors for IFN-α/β, IFN-γ, and both IFNs. Virus titers in the lungs of mice unable to respond to IFNs were not significantly different from congenic controls for both primary and secondary infection. Likewise the mice were comparably susceptible to X31 (H3N2) influenza virus infection. No significant disruption to the development of normal antiviral CTL or antibody responses was observed. In contrast, mice bearing the disrupted IFN-α/β receptor exhibited accelerated kinetics and significantly higher levels of neutralizing antibody activity during primary or secondary heterosubtypic influenza virus infection. Thus, these observations reveal no significant contribution for IFN-controlled pathways in shaping acute or memory T-cell responses to pneumotropic influenza virus infection but do indicate some role for IFN-α/β in the regulation of antibody responses. Recognizing the pivotal role of CTLs and antibody in virus clearance, it is reasonable to assume a redundancy in IFN-mediated antiviral effects in pulmonary influenza. However, IFN-α/β seems to be a valid factor in determining tissue tropism and replicative rates of highly virulent influenza virus strains as reported previously by others, and this aspect is discussed here.
PMCID: PMC111913  PMID: 10756011
7.  Type I IFN Triggers RIG-I/TLR3/NLRP3-dependent Inflammasome Activation in Influenza A Virus Infected Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003256.
Influenza A virus (IAV) triggers a contagious and potentially lethal respiratory disease. A protective IL-1β response is mediated by innate receptors in macrophages and lung epithelial cells. NLRP3 is crucial in macrophages; however, which sensors elicit IL-1β secretion in lung epithelial cells remains undetermined. Here, we describe for the first time the relative roles of the host innate receptors RIG-I (DDX58), TLR3, and NLRP3 in the IL-1β response to IAV in primary lung epithelial cells. To activate IL-1β secretion, these cells employ partially redundant recognition mechanisms that differ from those described in macrophages. RIG-I had the strongest effect through a MAVS/TRIM25/Riplet–dependent type I IFN signaling pathway upstream of TLR3 and NLRP3. Notably, RIG-I also activated the inflammasome through interaction with caspase 1 and ASC in primary lung epithelial cells. Thus, NS1, an influenza virulence factor that inhibits the RIG-I/type I IFN pathway, strongly modulated the IL-1β response in lung epithelial cells and in ferrets. The NS1 protein derived from a highly pathogenic strain resulted in increased interaction with RIG-I and inhibited type I IFN and IL-1β responses compared to the least pathogenic virus strains. These findings demonstrate that in IAV-infected lung epithelial cells RIG-I activates the inflammasome both directly and through a type I IFN positive feedback loop.
Author Summary
Although epithelial cells lining our respiratory tract are both the primary targets of influenza A virus (IAV) infection and major players in the outcome of this infection, we still have an imperfect understanding of their response to the virus. Such knowledge is important to design proper anti-influenza strategies. Here, we discovered that epithelial cells sense and respond to IAV infection quite differently than macrophages. While the pathogen recognition receptor (PRR) NLRP3 is crucial in macrophages, we show that IAV infection of primary respiratory epithelial cells triggers IL-1β secretion, which depends not only on NLRP3 but also on two other PRRs, RIG-I and TLR3. In the IL-1β production pathway, RIG-I occupies the most upstream position; it does so directly, through the formation of a RIG-I/ASC inflammasome, and indirectly, through the up-regulation of these three PRRs via a type I IFN positive feedback loop. Further, the increased virulence of IAV in a ferret infection model implicated NS1, a virus protein that targets RIG-I, decreasing both type I IFN and IL-1β secretion in epithelial cells. These results improve our understanding of the tissue-specificity of RIG-I antiviral mechanisms involving type I IFN and IL-1β, and suggest the use of RIG-I agonists in anti-viral therapy or as vaccine adjuvants.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003256
PMCID: PMC3623797  PMID: 23592984
8.  Characterization of the Interferon-Producing Cell in Mice Infected with Listeria monocytogenes 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(3):e1000355.
Production of type I interferons (IFN-I, mainly IFNα and IFNβ) is a hallmark of innate immune responses to all classes of pathogens. When viral infection spreads to lymphoid organs, the majority of systemic IFN-I is produced by a specialized “interferon-producing cell” (IPC) that has been shown to belong to the lineage of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC). It is unclear whether production of systemic IFN-I is generally attributable to pDC irrespective of the nature of the infecting pathogen. We have addressed this question by studying infections of mice with the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Protective innate immunity against this pathogen is weakened by IFN-I activity. In mice infected with L. monocytogenes, systemic IFN-I was amplified via IFN-β, the IFN-I receptor (IFNAR), and transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7), a molecular circuitry usually characteristic of non-pDC producers. Synthesis of serum IFN-I did not require TLR9. In contrast, in vitro–differentiated pDC infected with L. monocytogenes needed TLR9 to transcribe IFN-I mRNA. Consistent with the assumption that pDC are not the producers of systemic IFN-I, conditional ablation of the IFN-I receptor in mice showed that most systemic IFN-I is produced by myeloid cells. Furthermore, results obtained with FACS-purified splenic cell populations from infected mice confirmed the assumption that a cell type with surface antigens characteristic of macrophages and not of pDC is responsible for bulk IFN-I synthesis. The amount of IFN-I produced in the investigated mouse lines was inversely correlated to the resistance to lethal infection. Based on these data, we propose that the engagement of pDC, the mode of IFN-I mobilization, as well as the shaping of the antimicrobial innate immune response by IFN-I differ between intracellular pathogens.
Author Summary
Type I Interferons (IFN-I) are cytokines produced by the innate immune system immediately after intrusion of a pathogen. To produce large quantities of IFN-I once an infection is starting to spread throughout the body, the innate immune system employs a specialized “interferon-producing cell” (IPC). In the case of viral infections, IFN-I protect the host organism from rapid viral replication and spread. Conversely, organisms that cannot produce IFN-I are exquisitely sensitive to viral infections. Intriguingly, the opposite has been reported for the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Like virus, this bacterium replicates within cells of the host organism and stimulates IFN-I synthesis. Unlike virus, however, IFN-I sensitize the infected host to lethal pathology resulting from L. monocytogenes infection. In this article, we show that all tested molecules contributing to IFN-I production in Listeria-infected mice are responsible for a corresponding increase in mortality. We address the question of which cell type is responsible for producing vast quantities of IFN-I that can be measured in the serum of mice infected with Listeria. We show that these are not IPC, but rather macrophages, cells specialized to ingest and kill bacteria. We conclude that the engagement of cells for IFN-I production and also the effect of IFN-I on innate immunity is determined by the tropism and lifestyle of a particular pathogen.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000355
PMCID: PMC2654726  PMID: 19325882
9.  Chicken interferon alpha pretreatment reduces virus replication of pandemic H1N1 and H5N9 avian influenza viruses in lung cell cultures from different avian species 
Virology Journal  2011;8:447.
Background
Type I interferons, including interferon alpha (IFN-α), represent one of the first lines of innate immune defense against influenza virus infection. Following natural infection of chickens with avian influenza virus (AIV), transcription of IFN-α is quickly up regulated along with multiple other immune-related genes. Chicken IFN-α up regulates a number of important anti-viral response genes and has been demonstrated to be an important cytokine to establish anti-viral immunity. However, the mechanisms by which interferon inhibit virus replication in avian species remains unknown as does the biological activity of chicken interferon in other avian species.
Methods
In these studies, we assessed the protective potential of exogenous chicken IFN-α applied to chicken, duck, and turkey primary lung cell cultures prior to infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus (A/turkey/Virginia/SEP-4/2009) and an established avian H5N9 virus (A/turkey/Wisconsin/1968). Growth kinetics and induction of select immune response genes, including IFN-α and myxovirus-resistance gene I (Mx), as well as proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β and IL-6), were measured in response to chicken IFN-α and viral infection over time.
Results
Results demonstrate that pretreatment with chicken IFN-α before AIV infection significantly reduced virus replication in both chicken-and turkey-origin lung cells and to a lesser degree the duck-origin cells. Virus growth was reduced by approximately 200-fold in chicken and turkey cells and 30-fold in duck cells after 48 hours of incubation. Interferon treatment also significantly decreased the interferon and proinflammatory response during viral infection. In general, infection with the H1N1 virus resulted in an attenuated interferon and proinflammatory response in these cell lines, compared to the H5N9 virus.
Conclusions
Taken together, these studies show that chicken IFN-α reduces virus replication, lower host innate immune response following infection, and is biologically active in other avian species.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-447
PMCID: PMC3197513  PMID: 21939525
avian influenza; interferon; chicken; duck; turkey
10.  A Novel Small Molecule Inhibitor of Influenza A Viruses that Targets Polymerase Function and Indirectly Induces Interferon 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002668.
Influenza viruses continue to pose a major public health threat worldwide and options for antiviral therapy are limited by the emergence of drug-resistant virus strains. The antiviral cytokine, interferon (IFN) is an essential mediator of the innate immune response and influenza viruses, like many viruses, have evolved strategies to evade this response, resulting in increased replication and enhanced pathogenicity. A cell-based assay that monitors IFN production was developed and applied in a high-throughput compound screen to identify molecules that restore the IFN response to influenza virus infected cells. We report the identification of compound ASN2, which induces IFN only in the presence of influenza virus infection. ASN2 preferentially inhibits the growth of influenza A viruses, including the 1918 H1N1, 1968 H3N2 and 2009 H1N1 pandemic strains and avian H5N1 virus. In vivo, ASN2 partially protects mice challenged with a lethal dose of influenza A virus. Surprisingly, we found that the antiviral activity of ASN2 is not dependent on IFN production and signaling. Rather, its IFN-inducing property appears to be an indirect effect resulting from ASN2-mediated inhibition of viral polymerase function, and subsequent loss of the expression of the viral IFN antagonist, NS1. Moreover, we identified a single amino acid mutation at position 499 of the influenza virus PB1 protein that confers resistance to ASN2, suggesting that PB1 is the direct target. This two-pronged antiviral mechanism, consisting of direct inhibition of virus replication and simultaneous activation of the host innate immune response, is a unique property not previously described for any single antiviral molecule.
Author Summary
Influenza viruses are rapidly developing resistance against available anti-influenza drugs and consequently there is an urgent demand for new treatment approaches. We identified compound ASN2 in a high-throughput screen for molecules that are capable of inducing the antiviral cytokine interferon (IFN) in the presence of influenza virus infection. Normally, influenza virus blocks IFN production, an activity that is dependent on the viral NS1 protein and contributes to the ability of the virus to cause disease in an infected host. We show that ASN2 is a potent inhibitor of influenza A virus and can partially protect infected animals from disease and death. ASN2 acts by targeting influenza virus polymerase function which results in inhibition of virus replication, and as a consequence, NS1 expression. Thus the ability of ASN2 to induce IFN is a “side-effect”, albeit a desirable one, of polymerase inhibition. This combination of directly inhibiting the virus while also stimulating the host immune response is a novel property for an antiviral compound.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002668
PMCID: PMC3343121  PMID: 22577360
11.  Unique Type I Interferon Responses Determine the Functional Fate of Migratory Lung Dendritic Cells during Influenza Virus Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(11):e1002345.
Migratory lung dendritic cells (DCs) transport viral antigen from the lungs to the draining mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs) during influenza virus infection to initiate the adaptive immune response. Two major migratory DC subsets, CD103+ DCs and CD11bhigh DCs participate in this function and it is not clear if these antigen presenting cell (APC) populations become directly infected and if so whether their activity is influenced by the infection. In these experiments we show that both subpopulations can become infected and migrate to the draining MLN but a difference in their response to type I interferon (I-IFN) signaling dictates the capacity of the virus to replicate. CD103+ DCs allow the virus to replicate to significantly higher levels than do the CD11bhigh DCs, and they release infectious virus in the MLNs and when cultured ex-vivo. Virus replication in CD11bhigh DCs is inhibited by I-IFNs, since ablation of the I-IFN receptor (IFNAR) signaling permits virus to replicate vigorously and productively in this subset. Interestingly, CD103+ DCs are less sensitive to I-IFNs upregulating interferon-induced genes to a lesser extent than CD11bhigh DCs. The attenuated IFNAR signaling by CD103+ DCs correlates with their described superior antigen presentation capacity for naïve CD8+ T cells when compared to CD11bhigh DCs. Indeed ablation of IFNAR signaling equalizes the competency of the antigen presenting function for the two subpopulations. Thus, antigen presentation by lung DCs is proportional to virus replication and this is tightly constrained by I-IFN. The “interferon-resistant” CD103+ DCs may have evolved to ensure the presentation of viral antigens to T cells in I-IFN rich environments. Conversely, this trait may be exploitable by viral pathogens as a mechanism for systemic dissemination.
Author Summary
Migratory lung dendritic cells (DCs) control the initiation of the adaptive immune responses to influenza virus by expanding virus-specific T cells in draining lymph nodes (MLNs) that will subsequently clear the pathogen from the respiratory tract. Here we demonstrate that both subsets of lung DCs, CD103+ DCs and CD11bhigh DCs become infected by influenza virus in vivo and migrate to the MLNs, but only CD103+ DCs support productive virus replication. Enhanced virus replication in CD103+ DCs compared to CD11bhigh DCs was responsible for their superior antigen presentation efficacy for naïve CD8+ T cells and originated from a difference in sensitivity of the two DC populations to type I interferon (I-IFN). These data show that in contrast to most other immune cell types, DCs can become productively infected with influenza virus and I-IFN operates as a master regulator controlling which DC subset will present antigen during a viral infection. A deeper understanding of basic innate and adaptive immune response mechanisms regulated by I-FN may lead to the development of cutting edge therapies and improve vaccine efficacy against influenza and other viruses.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002345
PMCID: PMC3207893  PMID: 22072965
12.  Lambda Interferon Renders Epithelial Cells of the Respiratory and Gastrointestinal Tracts Resistant to Viral Infections▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2010;84(11):5670-5677.
Virus-infected cells secrete a broad range of interferons (IFN) which confer resistance to yet uninfected cells by triggering the synthesis of antiviral factors. The relative contributions of the various IFN subtypes to innate immunity against virus infections remain elusive. IFN-α, IFN-β, and other type I IFN molecules signal through a common, universally expressed cell surface receptor, whereas type III IFN (IFN-λ) uses a distinct cell-type-specific receptor complex for signaling. Using mice lacking functional receptors for type I IFN, type III IFN, or both, we found that IFN-λ plays an important role in the defense against several human pathogens that infect the respiratory tract, such as influenza A virus, influenza B virus, respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus. These viruses were more pathogenic and replicated to higher titers in the lungs of mice lacking both IFN receptors than in mice with single IFN receptor defects. In contrast, Lassa fever virus, which infects via the respiratory tract but primarily replicates in the liver, was not influenced by the IFN-λ receptor defect. Careful analysis revealed that expression of functional IFN-λ receptor complexes in the lung and intestinal tract is restricted to epithelial cells and a few other, undefined cell types. Interestingly, we found that SARS coronavirus was present in feces from infected mice lacking receptors for both type I and type III IFN but not in those from mice lacking single receptors, supporting the view that IFN-λ contributes to the control of viral infections in epithelial cells of both respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00272-10
PMCID: PMC2876583  PMID: 20335250
13.  The Human Adenovirus Type 5 E1B 55 kDa Protein Obstructs Inhibition of Viral Replication by Type I Interferon in Normal Human Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(8):e1002853.
Vectors derived from human adenovirus type 5, which typically lack the E1A and E1B genes, induce robust innate immune responses that limit their therapeutic efficacy. We reported previously that the E1B 55 kDa protein inhibits expression of a set of cellular genes that is highly enriched for those associated with anti-viral defense and immune responses, and includes many interferon-sensitive genes. The sensitivity of replication of E1B 55 kDa null-mutants to exogenous interferon (IFN) was therefore examined in normal human fibroblasts and respiratory epithelial cells. Yields of the mutants were reduced at least 500-fold, compared to only 5-fold, for wild-type (WT) virus replication. To investigate the mechanistic basis of such inhibition, the accumulation of viral early proteins and genomes was compared by immunoblotting and qPCR, respectively, in WT- and mutant-infected cells in the absence or presence of exogenous IFN. Both the concentration of viral genomes detected during the late phase and the numbers of viral replication centers formed were strongly reduced in IFN-treated cells in the absence of the E1B protein, despite production of similar quantities of viral replication proteins. These defects could not be attributed to degradation of entering viral genomes, induction of apoptosis, or failure to reorganize components of PML nuclear bodies. Nor was assembly of the E1B- and E4 Orf6 protein- E3 ubiquitin ligase required to prevent inhibition of viral replication by IFN. However, by using RT-PCR, the E1B 55 kDa protein was demonstrated to be a potent repressor of expression of IFN-inducible genes in IFN-treated cells. We propose that a primary function of the previously described transcriptional repression activity of the E1B 55 kDa protein is to block expression of IFN- inducible genes, and hence to facilitate formation of viral replication centers and genome replication.
Author Summary
The most frequently used therapeutic vectors for gene transfer or cancer treatment are derived from human adenovirus type 5 (Ad5). We have observed previously that the E1B 55 kDa protein encoded by a gene routinely deleted from these vectors represses expression of numerous cellular genes regulated by interferon (IFN) α and β, which are important components of the innate immune response to viral infection. We therefore compared synthesis of pre-mRNA from IFN-inducible genes, viral yields and early reactions in the infectious cycle in normal human cells exposed to exogenous IFN and infected by wild-type or E1B 55 kDa null-mutant viruses. We report that the E1B 55 kDa protein is a potent repressor of expression of IFN-regulated genes, and protects viral replication against anti-viral actions of IFN by blocking inhibition of formation of viral replication centers and genome replication. These observations provide the first information about the function of the transcription repression activity of E1B during the infectious cycle. Importantly, they also suggest new design considerations for adenoviral vectors that can circumvent induction of innate immune responses, currently a major therapeutic limitation.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002853
PMCID: PMC3415460  PMID: 22912576
14.  Systems Analysis of a RIG-I Agonist Inducing Broad Spectrum Inhibition of Virus Infectivity 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003298.
The RIG-I like receptor pathway is stimulated during RNA virus infection by interaction between cytosolic RIG-I and viral RNA structures that contain short hairpin dsRNA and 5′ triphosphate (5′ppp) terminal structure. In the present study, an RNA agonist of RIG-I was synthesized in vitro and shown to stimulate RIG-I-dependent antiviral responses at concentrations in the picomolar range. In human lung epithelial A549 cells, 5′pppRNA specifically stimulated multiple parameters of the innate antiviral response, including IRF3, IRF7 and STAT1 activation, and induction of inflammatory and interferon stimulated genes - hallmarks of a fully functional antiviral response. Evaluation of the magnitude and duration of gene expression by transcriptional profiling identified a robust, sustained and diversified antiviral and inflammatory response characterized by enhanced pathogen recognition and interferon (IFN) signaling. Bioinformatics analysis further identified a transcriptional signature uniquely induced by 5′pppRNA, and not by IFNα-2b, that included a constellation of IRF7 and NF-kB target genes capable of mobilizing multiple arms of the innate and adaptive immune response. Treatment of primary PBMCs or lung epithelial A549 cells with 5′pppRNA provided significant protection against a spectrum of RNA and DNA viruses. In C57Bl/6 mice, intravenous administration of 5′pppRNA protected animals from a lethal challenge with H1N1 Influenza, reduced virus titers in mouse lungs and protected animals from virus-induced pneumonia. Strikingly, the RIG-I-specific transcriptional response afforded partial protection from influenza challenge, even in the absence of type I interferon signaling. This systems approach provides transcriptional, biochemical, and in vivo analysis of the antiviral efficacy of 5′pppRNA and highlights the therapeutic potential associated with the use of RIG-I agonists as broad spectrum antiviral agents.
Author Summary
Development of safe and effective drugs that inhibit virus replication remains a challenge. Activation of natural host defense using interferon (IFN) therapy has proven an effective treatment of certain viral infections. As a distinct variation on this concept, we analyzed the capacity of small RNA molecules that mimic viral components to trigger the host antiviral response and to inhibit the replication of several pathogenic human viruses. Using gene expression profiling, we identified robust antiviral and inflammatory gene signatures after treatment with a 5′-triphosphate containing RNA (5′pppRNA), including an integrated set of genes that is not regulated by IFN treatment. Delivery of 5′pppRNA into lung epithelial cells in vitro stimulated a strong antiviral immune response that inhibited the multiplication of several viruses. In a murine model of influenza infection, inoculation of the agonist protected animals from a lethal challenge of H1N1 influenza and inhibited virus replication in mouse lungs during the first 24–48 h after infection. This report highlights the therapeutic potential of naturally derived RIG-I agonists as potent stimulators of the innate antiviral response, with the capacity to block the replication of diverse human pathogenic viruses.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003298
PMCID: PMC3635991  PMID: 23633948
15.  Swine Influenza H1N1 Virus Induces Acute Inflammatory Immune Responses in Pig Lungs: a Potential Animal Model for Human H1N1 Influenza Virus ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(21):11210-11218.
Pigs are capable of generating reassortant influenza viruses of pandemic potential, as both the avian and mammalian influenza viruses can infect pig epithelial cells in the respiratory tract. The source of the current influenza pandemic is H1N1 influenza A virus, possibly of swine origin. This study was conducted to understand better the pathogenesis of H1N1 influenza virus and associated host mucosal immune responses during acute infection in humans. Therefore, we chose a H1N1 swine influenza virus, Sw/OH/24366/07 (SwIV), which has a history of transmission to humans. Clinically, inoculated pigs had nasal discharge and fever and shed virus through nasal secretions. Like pandemic H1N1, SwIV also replicated extensively in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, and lung lesions were typical of H1N1 infection. We detected innate, proinflammatory, Th1, Th2, and Th3 cytokines, as well as SwIV-specific IgA antibody in lungs of the virus-inoculated pigs. Production of IFN-γ by lymphocytes of the tracheobronchial lymph nodes was also detected. Higher frequencies of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, γδ T cells, dendritic cells, activated T cells, and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were detected in SwIV-infected pig lungs. Concomitantly, higher frequencies of the immunosuppressive T regulatory cells were also detected in the virus-infected pig lungs. The findings of this study have relevance to pathogenesis of the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in humans; thus, pigs may serve as a useful animal model to design and test effective mucosal vaccines and therapeutics against influenza virus.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01211-10
PMCID: PMC2953174  PMID: 20719941
16.  Enhancement of the anti-tumour effects of the antivascular agent 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) by combination with 5-hydroxytryptamine and bioreductive drugs. 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;78(4):439-445.
The tumour blood flow inhibitor 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) causes dramatic haemorrhagic necrosis in murine tumours, but activity is seen only at doses close to the toxic limit. This study investigates two approaches for increasing the therapeutic ratio of DMXAA. The first approach combines DMXAA with a second tumour blood flow inhibitor, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Co-administration of 5-HT (700 micromol kg(-1)) to C3H mice caused marked enhancement of DMXAA effects against MDAH-MCa-4 tumours, with dose-modifying factors (DMFs) of >3 for blood flow inhibition (at 4 h), 2.3 for necrosis (at 12 h) and 2.0 for growth delay, without compromising the maximum tolerated dose of DMXAA (90 micromol kg(-1)). The data are consistent with ischaemic injury to the tumour being the major mechanism of anti-tumour activity. The second approach combines DMXAA (+/- 5-HT) with hypoxia-selective bioreductive drugs. Anti-tumour activity of all three bioreductive drugs tested (tirapazamine, CI-1010, SN 23816) was strongly potentiated by DMXAA, suggesting that there is a population of reversibly hypoxic tumour cells after DMXAA treatment. Co-administration of 5-HT further potentiated anti-tumour activity, but also increased host toxicity of tirapazamine and CI-1010 so that little therapeutic benefit was achieved. In contrast, the host toxicity of the dinitrobenzamide mustard SN 23816 was only slightly increased by DMXAA/5-HT, whereas the tumour growth delay at the maximum tolerated dose of SN 23816 was increased from 3.5 to 26.5 days. This study demonstrates that 5-HT and/or bioreductive drugs can improve the therapeutic activity of DMXAA in mice, and that with SN 23816 both approaches can be used together to provide considerably enhanced anti-tumour activity.
PMCID: PMC2063102  PMID: 9716024
17.  Intranasal Administration of Alpha Interferon Reduces Seasonal Influenza A Virus Morbidity in Ferrets▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(8):3843-3851.
The type I interferon (IFN) response represents one of the first lines of defense against influenza virus infections. In this study, we assessed the protective potential of exogenous IFN-α against seasonal and highly pathogenic influenza viruses in ferrets. Intranasal treatment with IFN-α several hours before infection with the H1N1 influenza A virus strain A/USSR/90/77 reduced viral titers in nasal washes at least 100-fold compared to mock-treated controls. IFN-treated animals developed only mild and transient respiratory symptoms, and the characteristic fever peak seen in mock-treated ferrets 2 days after infection was not observed. Repeated application of IFN-α substantially increased the protective effect of the cytokine treatment. IFN-α did not increase survival after infection with the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza A virus strain A/Vietnam/1203/2004. However, viral titers in nasal washes were significantly reduced at days 1 and 3 postinfection. Our study shows that intranasal application of IFN-α can protect ferrets from seasonal influenza viruses, which replicate mainly in the upper respiratory tract, but not from highly pathogenic influenza viruses, which also disseminate to the lung. Based on these results, a more intensive evaluation of IFN-α as an emergency drug against pandemic influenza A is warranted.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02453-08
PMCID: PMC2663257  PMID: 19193792
18.  Opposing Roles for Interferon Regulatory Factor-3 (IRF-3) and Type I Interferon Signaling during Plague 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(7):e1002817.
Type I interferons (IFN-I) broadly control innate immunity and are typically transcriptionally induced by Interferon Regulatory Factors (IRFs) following stimulation of pattern recognition receptors within the cytosol of host cells. For bacterial infection, IFN-I signaling can result in widely variant responses, in some cases contributing to the pathogenesis of disease while in others contributing to host defense. In this work, we addressed the role of type I IFN during Yersinia pestis infection in a murine model of septicemic plague. Transcription of IFN-β was induced in vitro and in vivo and contributed to pathogenesis. Mice lacking the IFN-I receptor, Ifnar, were less sensitive to disease and harbored more neutrophils in the later stage of infection which correlated with protection from lethality. In contrast, IRF-3, a transcription factor commonly involved in inducing IFN-β following bacterial infection, was not necessary for IFN production but instead contributed to host defense. In vitro, phagocytosis of Y. pestis by macrophages and neutrophils was more effective in the presence of IRF-3 and was not affected by IFN-β signaling. This activity correlated with limited bacterial growth in vivo in the presence of IRF-3. Together the data demonstrate that IRF-3 is able to activate pathways of innate immunity against bacterial infection that extend beyond regulation of IFN-β production.
Author Summary
Type I interferons (IFN-I) broadly stimulate innate immunity against viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens. Many bacterial pathogens induce IFN-I through phosphorylation of Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 (IRF-3) allowing it to bind promoters containing Interferon Stimulated Response Elements (ISRE) which include IFN-β and pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Secreted IFN-β is taken up by the IFN-αβ receptor (IFNAR), triggering activation of the JAK-STAT pathway which also activates ISRE-containing genes. In this work, we have discovered a novel anti-bacterial function of IRF-3. We show that the respiratory pathogen, Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, activates IRF-3 and the IFN-I response and that these two events cause opposite outcomes in the host. While IRF-3 is necessary for an early stage of phagocytosis, IFNAR signaling promotes the infection and may directly contribute to neutrophil depletion during infection. These results demonstrate that an IFN-independent function of IRF-3 is important to host defense against bacterial infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002817
PMCID: PMC3406097  PMID: 22911267
19.  Influenza A Virus-Induced Degradation of Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 4B Contributes to Viral Replication by Suppressing IFITM3 Protein Expression 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8375-8385.
ABSTRACT
Although alteration in host cellular translation machinery occurs in virus-infected cells, the role of such alteration and the precise pathogenic processes are not well understood. Influenza A virus (IAV) infection shuts off host cell gene expression at transcriptional and translational levels. Here, we found that the protein level of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4B (eIF4B), an integral component of the translation initiation apparatus, was dramatically reduced in A549 cells as well as in the lung, spleen, and thymus of mice infected with IAV. The decrease in eIF4B level was attributed to lysosomal degradation of eIF4B, which was induced by viral NS1 protein. Silencing eIF4B expression in A549 cells significantly promoted IAV replication, and conversely, overexpression of eIF4B markedly inhibited the viral replication. Importantly, we observed that eIF4B knockdown transgenic mice were more susceptible to IAV infection, exhibiting faster weight loss, shorter survival time, and more-severe organ damage. Furthermore, we demonstrated that eIF4B regulated the expression of interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3), a critical protein involved in immune defense against a variety of RNA viruses, including influenza virus. Taken together, our findings reveal that eIF4B plays an important role in host defense against IAV infection at least by regulating the expression of IFITM3, which restricts viral entry and thereby blocks early stages of viral production. These data also indicate that influenza virus has evolved a strategy to overcome host innate immunity by downregulating eIF4B protein.
IMPORTANCE Influenza A virus (IAV) infection stimulates the host innate immune system, in part, by inducing interferons (IFNs). Secreted IFNs activate the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway, leading to elevated transcription of a large group of IFN-stimulated genes that have antiviral function. To circumvent the host innate immune response, influenza virus has evolved multiple strategies for suppressing the production of IFNs. Here, we show that IAV infection induces lysosomal degradation of eIF4B protein; and eIF4B inhibits IAV replication by upregulating expression of interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3), a key protein that protects the host from virus infection. Our finding illustrates a critical role of eIF4B in the host innate immune response and provides novel insights into the complex mechanisms by which influenza virus interacts with its host.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00126-14
PMCID: PMC4135930  PMID: 24829357
20.  Type I and Type III Interferons Drive Redundant Amplification Loops to Induce a Transcriptional Signature in Influenza-Infected Airway Epithelia 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(11):e1003773.
Interferons (IFNs) are a group of cytokines with a well-established antiviral function. They can be induced by viral infection, are secreted and bind to specific receptors on the same or neighbouring cells to activate the expression of hundreds of IFN stimulated genes (ISGs) with antiviral function. Type I IFN has been known for more than half a century. However, more recently, type III IFN (IFNλ, IL-28/29) was shown to play a similar role and to be particularly important at epithelial surfaces. Here we show that airway epithelia, the primary target of influenza A virus, produce both IFN I and III upon infection, and that induction of both depends on the RIG-I/MAVS pathway. While IRF3 is generally regarded as the transcription factor required for initiation of IFN transcription and the so-called “priming loop”, we find that IRF3 deficiency has little impact on IFN expression. In contrast, lack of IRF7 reduced IFN production significantly, and only IRF3−/−IRF7−/− double deficiency completely abolished it. The transcriptional response to influenza infection was largely dependent on IFNs, as it was reduced to a few upregulated genes in epithelia lacking receptors for both type I and III IFN (IFNAR1−/−IL-28Rα−/−). Wild-type epithelia and epithelia deficient in either the type I IFN receptor or the type III IFN receptor exhibit similar transcriptional profiles in response to virus, indicating that none of the induced genes depends selectively on only one IFN system. In chimeric mice, the lack of both IFN I and III signalling in the stromal compartment alone significantly increased the susceptibility to influenza infection. In conclusion, virus infection of airway epithelia induces, via a RIG-I/MAVS/IRF7 dependent pathway, both type I and III IFNs which drive two completely overlapping and redundant amplification loops to upregulate ISGs and protect from influenza infection.
Author Summary
The response of cells to virus infection depends on Interferons (IFNs), a group of cytokines which activate the expression of hundreds of genes that help control viral replication inside infected cells. While type I IFN was discovered in 1957, type III IFN (IFNλ, IL-28/29) was characterized recently and is known for its role in the response to hepatitis C virus. Airway epithelia are the primary target of influenza virus, and we studied how infection induces IFNs and which IFN is most important for the epithelial anti-influenza response. We found that infected epithelia detect virus through the cytoplasmic RIG-I/MAVS recognition system, leading to activation of the transcription factor IRF7 and subsequent induction of both type I and III IFNs. All ensuing cellular responses to infection are dependent on the production and secretion of IFNs, as responses are lost in epithelia lacking receptors for both type I and III IFNs. Finally, gene induction is indistinguishable in single receptor-deficient and wild-type cells, indicating that the two IFN systems are completely redundant in epithelia. Thus, influenza infection of airway epithelia induces, via a RIG-I/MAVS/IRF7 dependent pathway, both type I and III IFNs which drive two overlapping and redundant amplification loops to upregulate antiviral genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003773
PMCID: PMC3836735  PMID: 24278020
21.  Cell-Type-Specific Effects of RNase L on Viral Induction of Beta Interferon 
mBio  2014;5(2):e00856-14.
ABSTRACT
The interferon (IFN)-inducible antiviral state is mediated in part by the 2′,5′-oligoadenylate (2-5A) synthetase (OAS)/RNase L system. 2-5A, produced from ATP by OAS proteins in response to viral double-stranded RNA, binds to and activates RNase L. RNase L restricts viral infections by degrading viral and cellular RNA, inducing autophagy and apoptosis, and producing RNA degradation products that amplify production of type I interferons (IFNs) through RIG-I-like receptors. However, the effects of the OAS/RNase L pathway on IFN induction in different cell types that vary in basal levels of these proteins have not been previously reported. Here we report higher basal expression of both RNase L and OAS in mouse macrophages in comparison to mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). In MEFs, RNase L gene knockout decreased induction of IFN-β by encephalomyocarditis virus infection or poly(rI):poly(rC) (pIC) transfection. In contrast, in macrophages, RNase L deletion increased (rather than decreased) induction of IFN-β by virus or pIC. RNA damage from RNase L in virus-infected macrophages is likely responsible for reducing IFN-β production. Similarly, direct activation of RNase L by transfection with 2-5A induced IFN-β in MEFs but not in macrophages. Also, viral infection or pIC transfection caused RNase L-dependent apoptosis of macrophages but not of MEFs. Our results suggest that cell-type-specific differences in basal levels of OAS and RNase L are determinants of IFN-β induction that could affect tissue protection and survival during viral infections.
IMPORTANCE
Type I interferons (IFNs) such as IFN-β are essential antiviral cytokines that are often required for animal survival following infections by highly pathogenic viruses. Therefore, host factors that regulate type I IFN production are critically important for animal and human health. Previously we reported that the OAS/RNase L pathway amplifies antiviral innate immunity by enhancing IFN-β production in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and in virus-infected mice. Here we report that high basal levels of OAS/RNase L in macrophages reduce, rather than increase, virus induction of IFN-β. RNA damage and apoptosis caused by RNase L were the likely reasons for the decreased IFN-β production in virus-infected macrophages. Our studies suggest that during viral infections, the OAS/RNase L pathway can either enhance or suppress IFN production, depending on the cell type. IFN regulation by RNase L is suggested to contribute to tissue protection and survival during viral infections.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00856-14
PMCID: PMC3940032  PMID: 24570368
22.  Expression of Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 1 (SOCS1) Impairs Viral Clearance and Exacerbates Lung Injury during Influenza Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004560.
Suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) proteins are inducible feedback inhibitors of cytokine signaling. SOCS1−/− mice die within three weeks postnatally due to IFN-γ-induced hyperinflammation. Since it is well established that IFN-γ is dispensable for protection against influenza infection, we generated SOCS1−/−IFN-γ−/− mice to determine whether SOCS1 regulates antiviral immunity in vivo. Here we show that SOCS1−/−IFN-γ−/− mice exhibited significantly enhanced resistance to influenza infection, as evidenced by improved viral clearance, attenuated acute lung damage, and consequently increased survival rates compared to either IFN-γ−/− or WT animals. Enhanced viral clearance in SOCS1−/−IFN-γ−/− mice coincided with a rapid onset of adaptive immune responses during acute infection, while their reduced lung injury was associated with decreased inflammatory cell infiltration at the resolution phase of infection. We further determined the contribution of SOCS1-deficient T cells to antiviral immunity. Anti-CD4 antibody treatment of SOCS1−/−IFN-γ−/− mice had no significant effect on their enhanced resistance to influenza infection, while CD8+ splenocytes from SOCS1−/−IFN-γ−/− mice were sufficient to rescue RAG1−/− animals from an otherwise lethal infection. Surprisingly, despite their markedly reduced viral burdens, RAG1−/− mice reconstituted with SOCS1−/−IFN-γ−/− adaptive immune cells failed to ameliorate influenza-induced lung injury. In conclusion, in the absence of IFN-γ, the cytoplasmic protein SOCS1 not only inhibits adaptive antiviral immune responses but also exacerbates inflammatory lung damage. Importantly, these detrimental effects of SOCS1 are conveyed through discrete cell populations. Specifically, while SOCS1 expression in adaptive immune cells is sufficient to inhibit antiviral immunity, SOCS1 in innate/stromal cells is responsible for aggravated lung injury.
Author Summary
Cytokines are critical in regulating the balance between protective immunity and detrimental inflammation during influenza infection. Suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) proteins are inducible feedback inhibitors of cytokine signaling. Using gene-deficient and infectious animal models, we determined how SOCS1 regulates immune defense against influenza infection. We show that the intracellular protein SOCS1 not only inhibits adaptive antiviral immune responses but also exacerbates inflammatory lung damage. These detrimental effects of SOCS1 are conveyed through discrete cell populations. Specifically, while SOCS1 expression in adaptive immune cells is sufficient to inhibit antiviral immunity, SOCS1 in innate/stromal cells is responsible for aggravated lung injury. To our knowledge, there is no report showing the regulatory role of SOCS1 during the course of influenza infection, and importantly, no evidence directly linking SOCS1 with excessive inflammation in other infectious disease models. The distinct and non-competing detrimental roles of SOCS1, as revealed in this study, make it an appealing target in the design of effective immunotherapies for combating influenza infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004560
PMCID: PMC4263766  PMID: 25500584
23.  Poly (I:C), an agonist of toll-like receptor-3, inhibits replication of the Chikungunya virus in BEAS-2B cells 
Virology Journal  2012;9:114.
Background
Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and its mimic, polyinosinic acid: polycytidylic acid [Poly (I:C)], are recognized by toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and induce interferon (IFN)-β in many cell types. Poly (I:C) is the most potent IFN inducer. In in vivo mouse studies, intraperitoneal injection of Poly (I:C) elicited IFN-α/β production and natural killer (NK) cells activation. The TLR3 pathway is suggested to contribute to innate immune responses against many viruses, including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, herpes simplex virus 2, and murine cytomegalovirus. In Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection, the viruses are cleared within 7–10 days postinfection before adaptive immune responses emerge. The innate immune response is important for CHIKV clearance.
Results
The effects of Poly (I:C) on the replication of CHIKV in human bronchial epithelial cells, BEAS-2B, were studied. Poly (I:C) suppressed cytopathic effects (CPE) induced by CHIKV infection in BEAS-2B cells in the presence of Poly (I:C) and inhibited the replication of CHIKV in the cells. The virus titers of Poly (I:C)-treated cells were much lower compared with those of untreated cells. CHIKV infection and Poly (I:C) treatment of BEAS-2B cells induced the production of IFN-β and increased the expression of anti-viral genes, including IFN-α, IFN-β, MxA, and OAS. Both Poly (I:C) and CHIKV infection upregulate the expression of TLR3 in BEAS-2B cells.
Conclusions
CHIKV is sensitive to innate immune response induced by Poly (I:C). The inhibition of CHIKV replication by Poly (I:C) may be through the induction of TLR3, which triggers the production of IFNs and other anti-viral genes. The innate immune response is important to clear CHIKV in infected cells.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-114
PMCID: PMC3490739  PMID: 22698190
Chikungunya virus; Poly (I:C); BEAS-2B cells; TLR3
24.  Retinoic acid inducible gene-I (RIG-I) signaling of hepatic stellate cells inhibits hepatitis C virus replication in hepatocytes 
Innate immunity  2012;19(2):193-202.
Retinoic acid inducible gene-I (RIG-I) is critical in the activation of the type I IFN-dependent antiviral innate immune response to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We examined whether hepatic stellate cells (HSC; LX-2) possess a functional RIG-I signaling pathway and produce antiviral factors that can inhibit HCV. We showed that LX-2 cells treated with the RIG-I ligand (5′ppp-dsRNA) expressed significantly higher levels of IFN-β and IFN-λ than the control cells. The RIG-I activation in LX-2 cells also induced the expression of Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and IFN regulatory factor-7 (IRF-7), the key regulators of the IFN signaling pathway. When HCV Japanese fulminant hepatitis (JFH)-1-infected hepatocytes were co-cultured with LX-2 cells stimulated with 5′ppp-dsRNA or incubated in media conditioned with supernatant (SN) from 5′ppp-dsRNA-stimulated LX-2 cells, HCV replication in hepatocytes was suppressed significantly. This LX-2 cell action on HCV replication was mediated through both IFN-β and IFN-λ, as Abs to IFN-α/β or IFN-λ receptors could neutralize the LX-2 SN-mediated anti-HCV effect. The role of IFNs in LX-2 cell-mediated anti-HCV activity is further supported by the observation that LX-2 SN treatment induced the expression of IFN stimulated genes, 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthase-1 (OAS-1) and myxovirus resistance A (MxA), in HCV-infected Huh7 cells. These observations highlight the importance of HSC in liver innate immunity against HCV infection via a RIG-I-mediated signaling pathway.
doi:10.1177/1753425912460414
PMCID: PMC3935722  PMID: 23060457
Hepatic stellate cells; hepatitis C virus; interferon; interferon stimulated genes; retinoic acid inducible gene-I
25.  Role of PKR and Type I IFNs in Viral Control during Primary and Secondary Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(6):e1000966.
Type I interferons (IFNs) are known to mediate viral control, and also promote survival and expansion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells. However, it is unclear whether signaling cascades involved in eliciting these diverse cellular effects are also distinct. One of the best-characterized anti-viral signaling mechanisms of Type I IFNs is mediated by the IFN-inducible dsRNA activated protein kinase, PKR. Here, we have investigated the role of PKR and Type I IFNs in regulating viral clearance and CD8+ T cell response during primary and secondary viral infections. Our studies demonstrate differential requirement for PKR, in viral control versus elicitation of CD8+ T cell responses during primary infection of mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). PKR-deficient mice mounted potent CD8+ T cell responses, but failed to effectively control LCMV. The compromised LCMV control in the absence of PKR was multifactorial, and linked to less effective CD8+ T cell-mediated viral suppression, enhanced viral replication in cells, and lower steady state expression levels of IFN-responsive genes. Moreover, we show that despite normal expansion of memory CD8+ T cells and differentiation into effectors during a secondary response, effective clearance of LCMV but not vaccinia virus required PKR activity in infected cells. In the absence of Type I IFN signaling, secondary effector CD8+ T cells were ineffective in controlling both LCMV and vaccinia virus replication in vivo. These findings provide insight into cellular pathways of Type I IFN actions, and highlight the under-appreciated importance of innate immune mechanisms of viral control during secondary infections, despite the accelerated responses of memory CD8+ T cells. Additionally, the results presented here have furthered our understanding of the immune correlates of anti-viral protective immunity, which have implications in the rational design of vaccines.
Author Summary
Type I interferons (IFNs) constitute the first line of defense against viral infections, promote antigen presentation by dendritic cells, and play a crucial role in directly stimulating anti-viral T cell responses. However, the mechanisms underlying the diverse cellular effects of Type I IFNs are not well defined. One of the best-characterized anti-viral signaling mechanisms induced by Type I IFNs is mediated by the IFN-inducible dsRNA activated protein kinase, PKR. We show that requirement for cellular PKR activity could be a distinguishing feature between Type I IFN actions that mediate viral control or stimulate CD8+ T cell expansion during an acute infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Typically, innate immune mechanisms including Type I IFNs are considered important for viral control during a primary infection. However, we find that presence of vaccine-induced CD8+ T cell memory and accelerated generation of secondary effectors are necessary but not sufficient to provide effective protective immunity to re-infection, without the aid of innate effectors PKR and Type I IFNs. These findings have improved our understanding of virus-immune system interactions and immune correlates of anti-viral protective immunity, which might have implications in the development of effective anti-viral vaccines and immunotherapies.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000966
PMCID: PMC2891951  PMID: 20585572

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