Archives of virology

A lack of Fas/FasL signalling leads to disturbances in the antiviral response during ectromelia virus infection.

PMID 26780774


Ectromelia virus (ECTV) is an orthopoxvirus (OPV) that causes mousepox, the murine equivalent of human smallpox. Fas receptor-Fas ligand (FasL) signaling is involved in apoptosis of immune cells and virus-specific cytotoxicity. The Fas/FasL pathway also plays an important role in controlling the local inflammatory response during ECTV infection. Here, the immune response to the ECTV Moscow strain was examined in Fas (-) (lpr), FasL (-) (gld) and C57BL6 wild-type mice. During ECTV-MOS infection, Fas- and FasL mice showed increased viral titers, decreased total numbers of NK cells, CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells followed by decreased percentages of IFN-γ expressing NK cells, CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in spleens and lymph nodes. At day 7 of ECTV-MOS infection, Fas- and FasL-deficient mice had the highest regulatory T cell (Treg) counts in spleen and lymph nodes in contrast to wild-type mice. Furthermore, at days 7 and 10 of the infection, we observed significantly higher numbers of PD-L1-expressing dendritic cells in Fas (-) and FasL (-) mice in comparison to wild-type mice. Experiments in co-cultures of CD4(+) T cells and bone-marrow-derived dendritic cells showed that the lack of bilateral Fas-FasL signalling led to expansion of Tregs. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that during ECTV infection, Fas/FasL can regulate development of tolerogenic DCs and Tregs, leading to an ineffective immune response.