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J Immunol. 2009 Oct 15;183(8):5180-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0804198. Epub 2009 Sep 28.

Essential impact of NF-kappaB signaling on the H5N1 influenza A virus-induced transcriptome.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Virology, Center of Molecular Biology of Inflammation and Interdisciplinary Center of Medical Research, Universitaetsklinikum Muenster, Muenster, Germany.


Systemic infections of humans and birds with highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses of the H5N1 subtype are characterized by inner bleedings and a massive overproduction of cytokines known as cytokine storm. Growing evidence supports the role of endothelial cells in these processes. The aim of this study was to elucidate determinants of this strong response in endothelial cells with a focus on the transcription factor NF-kappaB. This factor is known as a major regulator of inflammatory response; however, its role in influenza virus replication and virus-induced immune responses is controversially discussed. By global mRNA profiling of infected cells in the presence or absence of a dominant negative mutant of IkappaB kinase 2 that specifically blocks the pathway, we could show that almost all H5N1 virus-induced genes depend on functional NF-kappaB signaling. In particular, activation of NF-kappaB is a bottleneck for the expression of IFN-beta and thus influences the expression of IFN-dependent genes indirectly in the primary innate immune response against H5N1 influenza virus. Control experiments with a low pathogenic influenza strain revealed a much weaker and less NF-kappaB-dependent host cell response.

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