Veterinary Science Collected Works - Research Publications

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    Immature Brain Cortical Neurons Have Low Transcriptional Competence to Activate Antiviral Defences and Control RNA Virus Infections
    Narayanan, D ; Moily, N ; McQuilten, HA ; Kedzierska, K ; Mackenzie, JM ; Kedzierski, L ; Fazakerley, JK (KARGER, 2023)
    Virus infections of the central nervous system (CNS) cause important diseases of humans and animals. As in other tissues, innate antiviral responses mediated by type I interferons (IFNs) are crucially important in controlling CNS virus infections. The maturity of neuronal populations is an established critical factor determining the outcome of CNS virus infection. Using primary cultures of mouse cortical neurons, we investigated the relationships between neuronal maturation, type I IFN responses, and the outcome of Semliki Forest virus infection. The virus replicated better, infected more cells, and produced higher titres of infectious viruses in immature neurons. Complete transcriptome analysis demonstrated that resting immature neurons have low transcriptional competence to mount antiviral responses. They had no detectable transcription of the genes Ddx58 and Ifih1, which encode key RNA virus cytoplasmic sensors RIG-I and MDA5, and very low expression of genes encoding key regulators of associated signalling pathways. Upon infection, immature neurons failed to mount an antiviral response as evidenced by their failure to produce chemokines, IFNs, and other cytokines. Treatment of immature neurons with exogenous IFNβ prior to infection resulted in antiviral responses and lower levels of virus replication and infectious virus production. In contrast, resting mature neurons generated a robust antiviral response. This was augmented by pretreatment with IFNβ. Infection of mature neurons derived from IFNAR-/- mice did not make an antiviral response and replicated virus to high levels.
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    Following Acute Encephalitis, Semliki Forest Virus is Undetectable in the Brain by Infectivity Assays but Functional Virus RNA Capable of Generating Infectious Virus Persists for Life
    Fragkoudis, R ; Dixon-Ballany, CM ; Zagrajek, AK ; Kedzierski, L ; Fazakerley, JK (MDPI, 2018-05)
    Alphaviruses are mosquito-transmitted RNA viruses which generally cause acute disease including mild febrile illness, rash, arthralgia, myalgia and more severely, encephalitis. In the mouse, peripheral infection with Semliki Forest virus (SFV) results in encephalitis. With non-virulent strains, infectious virus is detectable in the brain, by standard infectivity assays, for around ten days. As we have shown previously, in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, infectious virus is detectable for months in the brain. Here we show that in MHC-II-/- mice, with no functional CD4 T-cells, infectious virus is also detectable in the brain for long periods. In contrast, in the brains of CD8-/- mice, virus RNA persists but infectious virus is not detectable. In SCID mice infected with SFV, repeated intraperitoneal administration of anti-SFV immune serum rapidly reduced the titer of infectious virus in the brain to undetectable, however virus RNA persisted. Repeated intraperitoneal passive transfer of immune serum resulted in maintenance of brain virus RNA, with no detectable infectious virus, for several weeks. When passive antibody transfer was stopped, antibody levels declined and infectious virus was again detectable in the brain. In aged immunocompetent mice, previously infected with SFV, immunosuppression of antibody responses many months after initial infection also resulted in renewed ability to detect infectious virus in the brain. In summary, antiviral antibodies control and determine whether infectious virus is detectable in the brain but immune responses cannot clear this infection from the brain. Functional virus RNA capable of generating infectious virus persists and if antibody levels decline, infectious virus is again detectable.