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ItemImmature Brain Cortical Neurons Have Low Transcriptional Competence to Activate Antiviral Defences and Control RNA Virus InfectionsNarayanan, 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.