Studies on interferon (IFN) induction and isolation of IFN-inducing mutant viruses
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The interferon (IFN) system is a powerful antiviral defense system. Host cell pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) recognise pathogen-associated molecule patterns (PAMPs) which when activated, lead to the transcription of the IFN-β gene. As a consequence IFN is secreted from the cell and activates the JAK-STAT pathway to up-regulate the transcription of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). The products of many ISGs inhibit viral replication and cell proliferation. Viruses encode IFN antagonists that dampen down the IFN response, making it less effective. However, within a virus population, there are always likely to be naturally occurring mutant viruses that have lost the ability to circumvent the host IFN response, and if isolated, these viruses would be unlikely to cause severe disease in the host and may therefore be developed as live attenuated virus vaccine candidates. To develop a methodology to rapidly isolate IFN-inducing mutant viruses, we generated an A549 reporter cell-line in which expression of GFP was driven by the IFN-β promoter. Using this cell-line, we show that the number of cells that became positive for GFP correlated with the amount of IFN secreted by the infected cells and the number of defective interfering (DI) particles within the virus preparations. However, we were unable to isolate IFN-inducing mutant viruses using the A549/pr(IFN-β).GFP cell-line(s). Possible reasons for this may be either that, in cells infected by IFN-inducing mutant viruses, an antiviral state was established independent of IFN that prevented virus replication in the reporter cells in which the IFN-β promoter was activated; or the viruses that activated the IFN-β promoter were DIs only which were not be able to replicate without non-defective helper viruses. A549/pr(IFN-β).GFP cells are also being used for high throughput assays to screen chemical libraries for compounds that block IFN induction. Such compounds may be potential candidates for anti-inflammatory drugs.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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