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J Virol. 2006 Mar;80(6):3009-20.

Global suppression of the host antiviral response by Ebola- and Marburgviruses: increased antagonism of the type I interferon response is associated with enhanced virulence.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Box 358070, Seattle, Washington 98195-8070, USA.


We studied the effect of filovirus infection on host cell gene expression by characterizing the regulation of gene expression responses in human liver cells infected with Zaire Ebolavirus (ZEBOV), Reston Ebolavirus (REBOV), and Marburgvirus (MARV), using transcriptional profiling and bioinformatics. Expression microarray analysis demonstrated that filovirus infection resulted in the up-regulation of immune-related genes and the down-regulation of many coagulation and acute-phase proteins. These studies further revealed that a common feature of filovirus virulence is suppression of key cellular antiviral responses, including TLR-, interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 3-, and PKR-related pathways. We further showed that ZEBOV and MARV were more potent antagonists of the IFN response and inhibited the expression of most of the IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) observed in mock-infected IFN-alpha-2b treated cells, compared to REBOV infection, which activated more than 20% of these ISGs. Finally, we examined IFN-related gene expression in filovirus-infected cells treated with IFN-alpha-2b. These experiments revealed that a majority of genes induced in mock-infected cells treated with type I IFN were antagonized in treated ZEBOV- and MARV-infected cells, while in contrast, REBOV infection resulted in a significant increase in ISG expression. Analysis of STAT1 and -2 phosphorylation following IFN treatment showed a significant reduction of STAT phosphorylation for MARV but not for ZEBOV and REBOV, indicating that different mechanisms might be involved in antagonizing IFN signaling pathways by the different filovirus species. Taken together, these studies showed a correlation between antagonism of type I IFN responses and filovirus virulence.

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