Ixodes scapularis transmits the agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis, among other pathogens. The mechanisms used by the tick to control Anaplasma phagocytophilum are not known. We demonstrate that the I. scapularis Janus kinase (JAK)–signaling transducer activator of transcription (STAT) pathway plays a critical role in A. phagocytophilum infection of ticks. The A. phagocytophilum burden increases in salivary glands and hemolymph when the JAK-STAT pathway is suppressed by RNA interference. The JAK-STAT pathway exerts its anti-Anaplasma activity presumably through STAT-regulated effectors. A salivary gland gene family encoding 5.3-kDa antimicrobial peptides is highly induced upon A. phagocytophilum infection of tick salivary glands. Gene expression and electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that the 5.3-kDa antimicrobial peptide–encoding genes are regulated by tick STAT. Silencing of these genes increased A. phagocytophilum infection of tick salivary glands and transmission to mammalian host. These data suggest that the JAK-STAT signaling pathway plays a key role in controlling A. phagocytophilum infection in ticks by regulating the expression of antimicrobial peptides.
Summary: West Nile Virus was introduced into the Western Hemisphere during the late summer of 1999 and has been causing significant and sometimes severe human diseases since that time. This article briefly touches upon the biology of the virus and provides a comprehensive review regarding recent discoveries about virus transmission, virus acquisition, and human infection and disease.
Vaccines that activate humoral and cell-mediated immune responses are urgently needed for many infectious agents, including the flaviviruses dengue and West Nile (WN) virus. Vaccine development would be greatly facilitated by a new approach, in which nanoscale modules (Ag, adjuvant, and carrier) are assembled into units that are optimized for stimulating immune responses to a specific pathogen. Toward that goal, we formulated biodegradable nanoparticles loaded with Ag and surface modified with the pathogen-associated molecular pattern CpG oligodeoxynucleotides. We chose to evaluate our construct using a recombinant envelope protein Ag from the WN virus and tested the efficiency of this system in eliciting humoral and cellular responses and providing protection against the live virus. Animals immunized with this system showed robust humoral responses polarized toward Th1 immune responses compared with predominately Th2-biased responses with the adjuvant aluminum hydroxide. Immunization with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide-modified nanoparticles resulted in a greater number of circulating effector T cells and greater activity of Ag-specific lymphocytes than unmodified nanoparticles or aluminum hydroxide. Ultimately, compared with alum, this system offered superior protection in a mouse model of WN virus encephalitis.
Research on syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the non-cultivatable spirochete Treponema pallidum, has been hampered by the lack of an inbred animal model. We hypothesized that Toll-like receptor (TLR)-dependent responses are essential for clearance of T. pallidum and, consequently, compared infection in wild-type (WT) mice and animals lacking MyD88, the adaptor molecule required for signaling by most TLRs. MyD88-deficient mice had significantly higher pathogen burdens and more extensive inflammation than control animals. Whereas tissue infiltrates in WT mice consisted of mixed mononuclear and plasma cells, infiltrates in MyD88-deficient animals were predominantly neutrophilic. Although both WT and MyD88-deficient mice produced antibodies that promoted uptake of treponemes by WT macrophages, MyD88-deficient macrophages were deficient in opsonophagocytosis of treponemes. Our results demonstrate that TLR-mediated responses are major contributors to the resistance of mice to syphilitic disease and that MyD88 signaling and FcR-mediated opsonophagocytosis are linked to the macrophage-mediated clearance of treponemes.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States, with the majority of patients becoming chronically infected and a subset (20%) progressing to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Individual variations in immune responses may help define successful resistance to infection with HCV. We have compared the immune response in primary macrophages from patients who have spontaneously cleared HCV (viral load negative [VL−], n = 37) to that of primary macrophages from HCV genotype 1 chronically infected (VL+) subjects (n = 32) and found that macrophages from VL− subjects have an elevated baseline expression of Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3). Macrophages from HCV patients were stimulated ex vivo through the TLR3 pathway and assessed using gene expression arrays and pathway analysis. We found elevated TLR3 response genes and pathway activity from VL− subjects. Furthermore, macrophages from VL− subjects showed higher production of beta interferon (IFN-β) and related IFN response genes by quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) and increased phosphorylation of STAT-1 by immunoblotting. Analysis of polymorphisms in TLR3 revealed a significant association of intronic TLR3 polymorphism (rs13126816) with the clearance of HCV and the expression of TLR3. Of note, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from the same donors showed opposite changes in gene expression, suggesting ongoing inflammatory responses in PBMCs from VL+ HCV patients. Our results suggest that an elevated innate immune response enhances HCV clearance mechanisms and may offer a potential therapeutic approach to increase viral clearance.
Caspase-12 has been shown to negatively modulate inflammasome signaling during bacterial infection. Its function in viral immunity, however, has not been characterized. We now report an important role for caspase-12 in controlling viral infection via the pattern-recognition receptor RIG-I. After challenge with West Nile virus (WNV), caspase-12-deficient mice had greater mortality, higher viral burden and defective type I interferon response compared with those of challenged wild-type mice. In vitro studies of primary neurons and mouse embryonic fibroblasts showed that caspase-12 positively modulated the production of type I interferon by regulating E3 ubiquitin ligase TRIM25–mediated ubiquitination of RIG-I, a critical signaling event for the type I interferon response to WNV and other important viral pathogens.
RNA viruses are sensed by RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), which signal through a mitochondria-associated adaptor molecule, MAVS, resulting in systemic antiviral immune responses. Although RLR signaling is essential for limiting RNA virus replication, it must be stringently controlled to prevent damage from inflammation. We demonstrate here that among all tested UBX-domain-containing protein family members, UBXN1 exhibits the strongest inhibitory effect on RNA-virus-induced type I interferon response. UBXN1 potently inhibits RLR- and MAVS-induced, but not TLR3-, TLR4-, or DNA-virus-induced innate immune responses. Depletion of UBXN1 enhances virus-induced innate immune responses, including those resulting from RNA viruses such as vesicular stomatitis, Sendai, West Nile, and dengue virus infection, repressing viral replication. Following viral infection, UBXN1 is induced, binds to MAVS, interferes with intracellular MAVS oligomerization, and disrupts the MAVS/TRAF3/TRAF6 signalosome. These findings underscore a critical role of UBXN1 in the modulation of a major antiviral signaling pathway.
Ixodes scapularis, the black-legged tick, vectors several human pathogens including Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease in North America. Pathogen transmission to the vertebrate host occurs when infected ticks feed on the mammalian host to obtain a blood meal. Efforts to understand how the tick confronts host hemostatic mechanisms and imbibes a fluid blood meal have largely focused on the anticoagulation strategies of tick saliva. The blood meal that enters the tick gut remains in a fluid state for several days during the process of feeding, and the role of the tick gut in maintaining the blood-meal fluid is not understood. We now demonstrate that the tick gut produces a potent inhibitor of thrombin, a key enzyme in the mammalian coagulation cascade. Chromatographic fractionation of engorged tick gut proteins identified one predominant thrombin inhibitory activity associated with an approximately 18 kDa protein, henceforth referred to as Ixophilin. The ixophilin gene was preferentially transcribed in the guts of feeding nymphs. Expression began after 24 hours of feeding, coincident with the flow of host blood into the tick gut. Immunity against Ixophilin delayed tick feeding, and decreased feeding efficiency significantly. Surprisingly, immunity against Ixophilin resulted in increased Borrelia burgdorferi transmission to the host, possibly due to delayed feeding and increased transmission opportunity. These observations illuminate the potential drawbacks of targeting individual tick proteins in a functional suite. They also underscore the need to identify the “anticoagulome” of the tick gut, and to prioritize a critical subset of anticoagulants that could be targeted to efficiently thwart tick feeding, and block pathogen transmission to the vertebrate host.
Anaplasma phagocytophilum, a member of the family Anaplasmataceae, is the tick-transmitted obligate intracellular bacterium that causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis. The life cycle of A. phagocytophilum is biphasic, transitioning between the noninfectious reticulate cell (RC) and infectious dense-cored (DC) forms. We analyzed the bacterium's DC surface proteome by selective biotinylation of surface proteins, NeutrAvidin affinity purification, and mass spectrometry. Transcriptional profiling of selected outer membrane protein candidates over the course of infection revealed that aph_0248 (designated asp14 [14-kDa A. phagocytophilum surface protein]) expression was upregulated the most during A. phagocytophilum cellular invasion. asp14 transcription was induced during transmission feeding of A. phagocytophilum-infected ticks on mice and was upregulated when the bacterium engaged its receptor, P-selectin glycoprotein ligand 1. Asp14 localized to the A. phagocytophilum surface and was expressed during in vivo infection. Treating DC organisms with Asp14 antiserum or preincubating mammalian host cells with glutathione S-transferase (GST)–Asp14 significantly inhibited infection of host cells. Moreover, preincubating host cells with GST-tagged forms of both Asp14 and outer membrane protein A, another A. phagocytophilum invasin, pronouncedly reduced infection relative to treatment with either protein alone. The Asp14 domain that is sufficient for cellular adherence and invasion lies within the C-terminal 12 to 24 amino acids and is conserved among other Anaplasma and Ehrlichia species. These results identify Asp14 as an A. phagocytophilum surface protein that is critical for infection, delineate its invasion domain, and demonstrate the potential of targeting Asp14 in concert with OmpA for protecting against infection by A. phagocytophilum and other Anaplasmataceae pathogens.
The West Nile virus (WNV) is an emerging infection of biodefense concern and there are no available treatments or vaccines. Here we used a high-throughput method based on a novel gene expression analysis, RNA-Seq, to give a global picture of differential gene expression by primary human macrophages of 10 healthy donors infected in vitro with WNV. From a total of 28 million reads per sample, we identified 1,514 transcripts that were differentially expressed after infection. Both predicted and novel gene changes were detected, as were gene isoforms, and while many of the genes were expressed by all donors, some were unique. Knock-down of genes not previously known to be associated with WNV resistance identified their critical role in control of viral infection. Our study distinguishes both common gene pathways as well as novel cellular responses. Such analyses will be valuable for translational studies of susceptible and resistant individuals—and for targeting therapeutics—in multiple biological settings.
anti-viral gene expression; immune response; macrophage; RNA-Seq; West Nile virus
West Nile virus is an emerging pathogen that can cause fatal neurological disease. A recombinant human monoclonal antibody, mAb11, has been described as a candidate for the prevention and treatment of West Nile disease. Using a yeast surface display epitope mapping assay and neutralization escape mutant, we show that mAb11 recognizes the fusion loop, at the distal end of domain II of the West Nile virus envelope protein. Antibody mAb11 cross-reacts with all four dengue viruses and provides protection against dengue (serotype 2 and 4) viruses. In contrast to the parental West Nile virus, a neutralization escape variant failed to cause lethal encephalitis (at higher infectious doses) or induce the inflammatory responses associated with blood-brain barrier permeability in mice, suggesting an important role for the fusion loop in viral pathogenesis. Our data demonstrate that an intact West Nile virus fusion loop is critical for virulence, and that human mAb11 targeting this region is efficacious against West Nile virus infection. These experiments define the molecular determinant on the envelope protein recognized by mAb11 and demonstrate the importance of this region in causing West Nile encephalitis.
Viral; antibodies; cytokines; inflammation; vaccination
Anaplasma phagocytophilum is the tick-transmitted obligate intracellular bacterium that causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA). A. phagocytophilum binding to sialyl Lewis x (sLex) and other sialylated glycans that decorate P selectin glycoprotein 1 (PSGL-1) and other glycoproteins is critical for infection of mammalian host cells. Here, we demonstrate the importance of A. phagocytophilum outer membrane protein A (OmpA) APH_0338 in infection of mammalian host cells. OmpA is transcriptionally induced during transmission feeding of A. phagocytophilum-infected ticks on mice and is upregulated during invasion of HL-60 cells. OmpA is presented on the pathogen's surface. Sera from HGA patients and experimentally infected mice recognize recombinant OmpA. Pretreatment of A. phagocytophilum organisms with OmpA antiserum reduces their abilities to infect HL-60 cells. The OmpA N-terminal region is predicted to contain the protein's extracellular domain. Glutathione S-transferase (GST)-tagged versions of OmpA and OmpA amino acids 19 to 74 (OmpA19-74) but not OmpA75-205 bind to, and competitively inhibit A. phagocytophilum infection of, host cells. Pretreatment of host cells with sialidase or trypsin reduces or nearly eliminates, respectively, GST-OmpA adhesion. Therefore, OmpA interacts with sialylated glycoproteins. This study identifies the first A. phagocytophilum adhesin-receptor pair and delineates the region of OmpA that is critical for infection.
Culex tarsalis is a superior horizontal and vertical vector of West Nile virus (WNV) compared with Culex salinarius. Culex salinarius transmitted WNV genotype NY99 (CT 2741-99 strain) horizontally to suckling mice at significantly lower rates than Cx. tarsalis on Days 8, 9, 10, and 12 post-infection, and Cx. salinarius transmitted WNV genotype NY99 to offspring at a lower vertical transmission infection rate than Cx. tarsalis. Culex tarsalis transmitted WNV genotypes NY99 and WN02 (CT S0084-08 strain) with equal efficiency. Daily percent horizontal transmission of genotype NY99 by Cx. tarsalis-infected per os and by intra-thoracic infection was not significantly different from daily transmission of genotype WN02 from Days 5–23 and Days 2–9 post-infection, respectively. Our findings do not support the previously published hypothesis that genotype NY99 was replaced in the New World by WN02 because of a shorter extrinsic incubation of WN02.
Aging is accompanied by a progressive decline in immune function. Studies have shown age-related decreases in expression and signaling efficiency of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in monocytes and dendritic cells and dysregulation of macrophage TLR3. Using a multivariable mixed effect model, we report a highly significant increase in TLR5 induced production of IL-8 from monocytes of older individuals (p<0.0001). Elevated IL-8 is accompanied by increased expression of TLR5, both protein and mRNA, and by increased levels of TLR5 mediated phosphorylation of MAPK p38 and ERK. We noted incomplete activation of NF-κB in response to TLR5 signaling in monocytes of elderly donors, as reflected by the absence of an associated increase in the production of TNF-α. Elevated TLR5 may provide a critical mechanism to enhance immune responsiveness in older individuals.
Aging; Toll-like receptors; monocytes; immunosenescence; IL-8; flagellin
West Nile virus (WNV), from the Flaviviridae family, is a re-emerging zoonotic pathogen of medical importance. In humans, WNV infection may cause life-threatening meningoencephalitis or long-term neurologic sequelae. WNV is transmitted by Culex spp mosquitoes and both the arthropod vector and the mammalian host are equipped with antiviral innate immune mechanisms sharing a common phylogeny. As far as the current evidence is able to demonstrate, mosquitoes primarily rely on RNA interference, Toll, Imd and JAK-STAT signaling pathways for limiting viral infection, while mammals are provided with these and other more complex antiviral mechanisms involving antiviral effectors, inflammatory mediators, and cellular responses triggered by highly specialized pathogen detection mechanisms that often resemble their invertebrate ancestry. This mini-review summarizes our current understanding of how the innate immune systems of the vector and the mammalian host react to WNV infection and shape its pathogenesis.
Obligate intracellular bacteria of the Rickettsiales order have evolved to colonize both arthropod and mammalian hosts, but few details are known about the bacterial adaptations that occur during transmission from blood-feeding arthropods to mammals. Here we apply proteomics and transcriptome sequencing to Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis, in Ixodes scapularis tick salivary glands, to detect proteins or genes expressed by the pathogen during transmission feeding by the tick. We detected expression of 139 genes, representing 11% of the open reading frames (ORFs) in the A. phagocytophilum genome. The predominant categories of proteins were ribosomal proteins, cell surface proteins, chaperones, and uncharacterized proteins. There was no evidence of DNA replication enzymes, suggesting that most of the A. phagocytophilum cells were no longer dividing. Instead, protein expression reflected conversion to the extracellular, infectious “dense-core” (DC) form. High expression of a DC-specific marker, APH_1235, further suggested this developmental transition in ticks. We showed that blocking APH_1235 with antibodies reduced A. phagocytophilum infection levels in mammalian cell culture. This work represents a starting point for clarifying essential proteins expressed by A. phagocytophilum during transmission from ticks to mammals and demonstrates that the abundantly expressed, DC-associated APH_1235 protein is important during in vivo infection by A. phagocytophilum.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a member of the family Flaviviridae and is a neurotropic pathogen responsible for severe human disease. Flavivirus-infected cells release virus particles that contain variable numbers of precursor membrane (prM) protein molecules at the viral surface. Consequently, antibodies are produced against the prM protein. These antibodies have been shown to activate the infectious potential of fully immature flavivirus particles in vitro. Here, we provide in vivo proof that prM antibodies render immature WNV infectious. Infection with antibody-opsonized immature WNV particles caused disease and death of mice, and infectious WNV was found in the brains and sera.
In mammals, circadian and daily rhythms influence nearly all aspects of physiology, ranging from behavior to gene expression. Functional molecular clocks have been described in the murine spleen and splenic NK cells. The aim of our study was to investigate the existence of molecular clock mechanisms in other immune cells. Therefore, we measured the circadian changes in gene expression of clock genes (Per1, Per2, Bmal1, and Clock) and clock-controlled transcription factors (Rev-erbα and Dbp) in splenic enriched macrophages, dendritic cells, and B cells in both mice entrained to a light-dark cycle and under constant environmental conditions. Our study reveals the existence of functional molecular clock mechanisms in splenic macrophages, dendritic cells, and B cells.
Mouse splenic macrophages; dendritic cells; B cells possess functional circadian molecular clocks
The Th17 cytokine, IL-22, regulates host immune responses to extracellular pathogens. Whether IL-22 plays a role in viral infection, however, is poorly understood. We report here that Il22−/− mice were more resistant to lethal West Nile virus (WNV) encephalitis, but had similar viral loads in the periphery compared to wild type (WT) mice. Viral loads, leukocyte infiltrates, proinflammatory cytokines and apoptotic cells in the central nervous system (CNS) of Il22−/− mice were also strikingly reduced. Further examination showed that Cxcr2, a chemokine receptor that plays a non-redundant role in mediating neutrophil migration, was significantly reduced in Il22−/− compared to WT leukocytes. Expression of Cxcr2 ligands, cxcl1 and cxcl5, was lower in Il22−/− brains than wild type mice. Correspondingly, neutrophil migration from the blood into the brain was attenuated following lethal WNV infection of Il22−/− mice. Our results suggest that IL-22 signaling exacerbates lethal WNV encephalitis likely by promoting WNV neuroinvasion.
Circadian rhythms refer to biologic processes that oscillate with a period of approximately 24 hours. These rhythms are sustained by a molecular clock and provide a temporal matrix that ensures the coordination of homeostatic processes with the periodicity of environmental challenges. We demonstrate the circadian molecular clock controls the expression and function of toll like receptor 9 (TLR9). In a vaccination model using TLR9 ligand as adjuvant, mice immunized at the time of enhanced TLR9 responsiveness presented weeks later with an improved adaptive immune response. In a TLR9-dependent mouse model of sepsis, we found that disease severity was dependent on the timing of sepsis induction, coinciding with the daily changes in TLR9 expression and function. These findings unveil a direct molecular link between the circadian and innate immune systems with important implications for immunoprophylaxis and immunotherapy.
Semaphorin 7A (Sema7A) is a membrane-associated/secreted protein that plays an essential role in connecting the vertebrate neuronal and immune systems. However, the role of Sema7A has not been elucidated in viral pathogenesis. In this study, we show that abrogation of Sema7A protects mice from lethal West Nile virus (WNV) infection. Mice lacking Sema7A showed increased survival, reduced viral burden, and less blood–brain barrier permeability upon WNV infection. Increased Sema7A levels were evident in murine tissues, as well as in murine cortical neurons and primary human macrophages upon WNV infection. Treatment with Sema7A Ab blocked WNV infection in both of these cell types. Furthermore, Sema7A positively regulates the production of TGF-β1 and Smad6 to facilitate WNV pathogenesis in mice. Collectively, these data elucidate the role of Sema7A in shared signaling pathways used by the immune and nervous systems during viral pathogenesis that may lead to the development of Sema7A-blocking therapies for WNV and possibly other flaviviral infections.
Plasmodium spp. are pathogenic to their vertebrate hosts and also apparently, impose a fitness cost on their insect vectors. We show here, however, that Plasmodium-infected mosquitoes survive starvation significantly better than uninfected mosquitoes. This survival advantage during starvation is associated with higher energy resource storage that infected mosquitoes accumulate during period of Plasmodium oocyst development. Microarray analysis revealed that the metabolism of sated mosquitoes is altered in the presence of rapidly growing oocysts, including the down-regulation of several enzymes involved in carbohydrate catabolism. In addition, enhanced expression of several insulin-like peptides was observed in Plasmodium-infected mosquitoes. Blocking insulin-like signaling pathway resulted in impaired Plasmodium development. We conclude that Plasmodium infection alters metabolic pathways in mosquitoes, epitomized by enhanced insulin-like signaling – thereby conferring a survival advantage to the insects during periods of starvation. Manipulation of this pathway might provide new strategies to influence the ability of mosquitoes to survive and transmit the protozoa that cause malaria.
West Nile virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne, single-stranded RNA flavivirus, causes significant human morbidity and mortality in the older population; thus, we investigated the effects of aging on infection with WNV in dendritic cells (DCs). We infected DCs with WNV in vitro and quantified cytokines and chemokines (type I IFN and CXCL10), pathogen recognition receptors RIG-I, and Toll-like receptors 3 and 7. The production of type I IFN was significantly lower in DCs from older donors, compared with younger donors. Although we observed no significant age-related difference in expression or nuclear translocation of signaling molecules in initial antiviral responses, DCs from older donors have diminished induction of late-phase responses (eg, STAT1, IRF7, and IRF1), suggesting defective regulation of type I IFN. Our results identify deficits in critical regulatory pathways in the antiviral response that may contribute to the enhanced susceptibility to viral infections observed in aging.
The maintenance of Borrelia burgdorferi in its complex tick-mammalian enzootic life cycle is dependent on the organism's adaptation to its diverse niches. To this end, the RpoN-RpoS regulatory pathway in B. burgdorferi plays a central role in microbial survival and Lyme disease pathogenesis by up- or down-regulating the expression of a number of virulence-associated outer membrane lipoproteins in response to key environmental stimuli. Whereas a number of studies have reported on the expression of RpoS and its target genes, a more comprehensive understanding of when activation of the RpoN-RpoS pathway occurs, and when induction of the pathway is most relevant to specific stage(s) in the life cycle of B. burgdorferi, has been lacking.
Herein, we examined the expression of rpoS and key lipoprotein genes regulated by RpoS, including ospC, ospA, and dbpA, throughout the entire tick-mammal infectious cycle of B. burgdorferi. Our data revealed that transcription of rpoS, ospC, and dbpA is highly induced in nymphal ticks when taking a blood meal. The RpoN-RpoS pathway remains active during the mammalian infection phase, as indicated by the sustained transcription of rpoS and dbpA in B. burgdorferi within mouse tissues following borrelial dissemination. However, dbpA transcription levels in fed larvae and intermolt larvae suggested that an additional layer of control likely is involved in the expression of the dbpBA operon. Our results also provide further evidence for the downregulation of ospA expression during mammalian infection, and the repression of ospC at later phases of mammalian infection by B. burgdorferi.
Our study demonstrates that the RpoN-RpoS regulatory pathway is initially activated during the tick transmission of B. burgdorferi to its mammalian host, and is sustained during mammalian infection.
Cross-reactive dengue virus (DENV) antibodies directed against the envelope (E) and precursor membrane (prM) proteins are believed to contribute to the development of severe dengue disease by facilitating antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. We and others recently demonstrated that anti-prM antibodies render essentially non-infectious immature DENV infectious in Fcγ-receptor-expressing cells. Immature DENV particles are abundantly present in standard (st) virus preparations due to inefficient processing of prM to M during virus maturation. Structural analysis has revealed that the E protein is exposed in immature particles and this prompted us to investigate whether antibodies to E render immature particles infectious. To this end, we analyzed the enhancing properties of 27 anti-E antibodies directed against distinct structural domains. Of these, 23 bound to immature particles, and 15 enhanced infectivity of immature DENV in a furin-dependent manner. The significance of these findings was subsequently tested in vivo using the well-established West Nile virus (WNV) mouse model. Remarkably, mice injected with immature WNV opsonized with anti-E mAbs or immune serum produced a lethal infection in a dose-dependent manner, whereas in the absence of antibody immature WNV virions caused no morbidity or mortality. Furthermore, enhancement infection studies with standard (st) DENV preparations opsonized with anti-E mAbs in the presence or absence of furin inhibitor revealed that prM-containing particles present within st virus preparations contribute to antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. Taken together, our results support the notion that antibodies against the structural proteins prM and E both can promote pathogenesis by enhancing infectivity of prM-containing immature and partially mature flavivirus particles.