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J Virol. 2013 Jan;87(2):998-1009. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02710-12. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

hsp70 and a novel axis of type I interferon-dependent antiviral immunity in the measles virus-infected brain.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Biosciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.


The major inducible 70-kDa heat shock protein (hsp70) is host protective in a mouse model of measles virus (MeV) brain infection. Transgenic constitutive expression of hsp70 in neurons, the primary target of MeV infection, abrogates neurovirulence in neonatal H-2(d) congenic C57BL/6 mice. A significant level of protection is retained after depletion of T lymphocytes, implicating innate immune mechanisms. The focus of the present work was to elucidate the basis for hsp70-dependent innate immunity using this model. Transcriptome analysis of brains from transgenic (TG) and nontransgenic (NT) mice 5 days after infection identified type I interferon (IFN) signaling, macrophage activation, and antigen presentation as the main differences linked to survival. The pivotal role of type I IFN in hsp70-mediated protection was demonstrated in mice with a genetically disrupted type I IFN receptor (IFNAR(-/-)), where IFNAR(-/-) eliminated the difference in survival between TG and NT mice. Brain macrophages, not neurons, are the predominant source of type I IFN in the virus-infected brain, and in vitro studies provided a mechanistic basis by which MeV-infected neurons can induce IFN-β in uninfected microglia in an hsp70-dependent manner. MeV infection induced extracellular release of hsp70 from mouse neuronal cells that constitutively express hsp70, and extracellular hsp70 induced IFN-β transcription in mouse microglial cells through Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. Collectively, our results support a novel axis of type I IFN-dependent antiviral immunity in the virus-infected brain that is driven by hsp70.

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