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J Virol. 2012 Feb;86(3):1650-60. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05924-11. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Apoptosis induced by mammalian reovirus is beta interferon (IFN) independent and enhanced by IFN regulatory factor 3- and NF-κB-dependent expression of Noxa.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, USA.


A variety of signal transduction pathways are activated in response to viral infection, which dampen viral replication and transmission. These mechanisms involve both the induction of type I interferons (IFNs), which evoke an antiviral state, and the triggering of apoptosis. Mammalian orthoreoviruses are double-stranded RNA viruses that elicit apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. The transcription factors interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) and nuclear factor kappa light-chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) are required for the expression of IFN-β and the efficient induction of apoptosis in reovirus-infected cells. However, it is not known whether IFN-β induction is required for apoptosis, nor have the genes induced by IRF-3 and NF-κB that are responsible for apoptosis been identified. To determine whether IFN-β is required for reovirus-induced apoptosis, we used type I IFN receptor-deficient cells, IFN-specific antibodies, and recombinant IFN-β. We found that IFN synthesis and signaling are dispensable for the apoptosis of reovirus-infected cells. These results indicate that the apoptotic response following reovirus infection is mediated directly by genes responsive to IRF-3 and NF-κB. Noxa is a proapoptotic BH3-domain-only protein of the Bcl-2 family that requires IRF-3 and NF-κB for efficient expression. We found that Noxa is strongly induced at late times (36 to 48 h) following reovirus infection in a manner dependent on IRF-3 and NF-κB. The level of apoptosis induced by reovirus is significantly diminished in cells lacking Noxa, indicating a key prodeath function for this molecule during reovirus infection. These results suggest that prolonged innate immune response signaling induces apoptosis by eliciting Noxa expression in reovirus-infected cells.

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