Journal of virology

Bst2/Tetherin Is Induced in Neurons by Type I Interferon and Viral Infection but Is Dispensable for Protection against Neurotropic Viral Challenge.

PMID 26311886


In permissive mouse central nervous system (CNS) neurons, measles virus (MV) spreads in the absence of hallmark viral budding or neuronal death, with transmission occurring efficiently and exclusively via the synapse. MV infection also initiates a robust type I interferon (IFN) response, resulting in the synthesis of a large number of genes, including bone marrow stromal antigen 2 (Bst2)/tetherin/CD317. Bst2 restricts the release of some enveloped viruses, but to date, its role in viral infection of neurons has not been assessed. Consequently, we investigated how Bst2 was induced and what role it played in MV neuronal infection. The magnitude of induction of neuronal Bst2 RNA and protein following IFN exposure and viral infection was notably higher than in similarly treated mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs). Bst2 synthesis was both IFN and Stat1 dependent. Although Bst2 prevented MV release from nonneuronal cells, its deletion had no effect on viral pathogenesis in MV-challenged mice. Our findings underscore how cell-type-specific differences impact viral infection and pathogenesis. Viral infections of the central nervous system can lead to debilitating disease and death. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that nonrenewable cells, including most central nervous system neurons, combat neurotropic viral infections in fundamentally different ways than other rapidly dividing and renewable cell populations. Here we identify type I interferon signaling as a key inducer of a known antiviral protein (Bst2) in neurons. Unexpectedly, the gene is dispensable for clearance of neurotropic viral infection despite its well-defined contribution to limiting the spread of enveloped viruses in proliferating cells. A deeper appreciation of the importance of cell type heterogeneity in antiviral immunity will aid in the identification of unique therapeutic targets for life-threatening viral infections.

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