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J Virol. 2004 Feb;78(4):1865-72.

The influenza B virus nonstructural NS1 protein is essential for efficient viral growth and antagonizes beta interferon induction.

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  • 1Robert Koch-Institut, 13353 Berlin, Germany.


We analyzed the functions of the influenza B virus nonstructural NS1-B protein, both by utilizing a constructed mutant virus (Delta NS1-B) lacking the NS1 gene and by testing the activities of the protein when expressed in cells. The mutant virus replicated to intermediate levels in 6-day-old embryonated chicken eggs that contain an immature interferon (IFN) system, whereas older eggs did not support viral propagation to a significant extent. The Delta NS1-B virus was a substantially stronger inducer of beta IFN (IFN-beta) transcripts in human lung epithelial cells than the wild type, and furthermore, transiently expressed NS1-B protein efficiently inhibited virus-dependent activation of the IFN-beta promoter. Interestingly, replication of the Delta NS1-B knockout virus was attenuated by more than 4 orders of magnitude in tissue culture cells containing or lacking functional IFN-alpha/beta genes. These findings show that the NS1-B protein functions as a viral IFN antagonist and indicate a further requirement of this protein for efficient viral replication that is unrelated to blocking IFN effects.

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