Poxvirus Modulation of the Immune Response
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Orthopoxviruses encode many genes that are not essential for viral replication, which often account for differences in pathogenesis among otherwise closely related orthopoxviruses. Although dendritic cells (DCs) are essential to the generation of an effective anti-viral immune response, the effects of different orthopoxviruses on DC function is poorly understood. The objective of these studies was to determine the effect of different orthopoxviruses on DCs. Cowpox virus (CPXV) is ideally suited to this purpose because it encodes the largest and most representative set of accessory genes among orthopoxviruses, it is endemic in mouse populations, and can infect humans.
We hypothesized that CPXV would have novel mechanisms of evading the immune response that other orthopoxviruses lack, which may exert maximal effect in the context of antigen presenting cells such as DCs, allowing for discovery of novel viral strategies of immune evasion. To test this, CPXV was used to infected mouse bone marrow-derived DCs (BMDCs), and the effect of the virus on DC survival, expression of T-cell costimulatory molecules and cytokine production was determined. The effects of vaccinia virus strain Western Reserve (VV), the prototype of the species, and modified vaccinia virus strain Ankara (MVA), a promising vaccine vector, on mouse BMDCs were also determined. Confirming the hypothesis that CPXV would have different effects on mouse BMDCs from other orthopoxviruses, BMDCs infected with CPXV survived longer in culture than those infected with MVA or VV. In addition, CPXV specifically downregulated MHC I, MHC II, CD40, and CD86, and induced production of significant levels of IL-6 and IL-10.
Because IL-10 has many suppressive effects on the immune system, inducing IL-10 may provide a selective advantage to CPXV in vivo. To examine the role of IL-10 in a CPXV infection, wild type and IL-10 deficient mice were infected intranasally with CPXV. The effect of CPXV infection on disease morbidity, viral loads, inflammation and the protective immune response was determined. As expected, IL-10 was important in controlling inflammation during CPXV infection, but there was no effect on viral replication or clearance. Surprisingly, IL-10 was important in generation of a protective memory response to CPXV, which may reflect a novel role for IL-10 in the immune response.
DepartmentMolecular Genetics and Microbiology
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