Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Upon viral infection, host cells produce type I interferon (IFN), which activates the JAK-STAT signaling pathway and induces the expression of hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) to establish an antiviral state. In West Nile virus (WNV)-infected cells, the JAK-STAT signaling pathway is blocked by viral proteins. However, the expression of a subset of ISGs, which includes 2¢-5¢-oligoadenylate synthetase 1a (Oas1a), Oas1b, interferon regulatory factor 7 (Irf7), Mx1, and interferon-induced proteins with tetratricopeptide repeats 1 (Ifit1), is still upregulated by an IFN-independent mechanism in WNV-infected mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). Studies in cells with one or more components of RNA-sensing pathway knocked out showed that the alternative ISG upregulation is activated through RIG-I or MDA5, and the downstream adaptor IPS-1. In cells with IRF3, 5 and 7 knocked out, the alternative ISG upregulation by WNV infection is reduced but not eliminated. As an initial means of discovering the transcription factors involved in this non-canonical ISG upregulation, the critical regulatory regions in the promoters of two representative ISGs, Oas1b and Ifit1, were mapped using a dual luciferase assay system with a NanoLuc luciferase promoter reporter in WNV-infected Ifnar1-/- MEFs. The region from -299 to -28 in the Oas1b promoter, and the region from -192 to -50 in the Ifit1 promoter were identified as being important for upregulating non-canonical gene expression after WNV infection. Fine mapping identified enhancer and repressor sub-regions as well as transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) putatively involved in the IFN-independent antiviral mechanism. Mutation of one identified TFBS in the ISG promoters reduced Oas1b and Ifit1 promoter activities. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs), a unique band, which was detected in WNV-infected but not in mock-infected Ifnar1-/- MEF nuclear extracts, was not observed when a probe with the identified TFBS mutated was used, suggesting that a unique complex forms at the identified TFBS when it is in the context of the adjacent flanking regions. The unique complex appears to contain NF-κB components and IRF3, IRF5 or IRF7. Our findings provide new insights into the mechanism involved in non-canonical upregulation of ISGs after WNV infection.
Cui, Dan, "Analysis of a Non-canonical Antiviral Mechanism in West Nile Virus-infected Mouse Cells." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2017.
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