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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2012 Jun;32(6):280-5. doi: 10.1089/jir.2011.0102. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

Influenza virus interferon-inducing particle efficiency is reversed in avian and mammalian cells, and enhanced in cells co-infected with defective-interfering particles.

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Virus and Interferon Research Laboratory, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.


Naturally selected variants of influenza virus encoding truncated NS1 proteins were tested in chickens as candidate live-attenuated influenza vaccines. Their effectiveness correlated with the amount of interferon (IFN) induced in chicken cells. Effective variants induced large amounts of IFN and contained subpopulations with high ratios of defective-interfering particles:IFN-inducing particles (DIP:IFP). Ineffective variants induced less IFN and contained lower ratios of DIP:IFP. Unexpectedly, there was a reversal of phenotypes in mammalian cells. Variants that induced low amounts of IFN and had low DIP:IFP ratios in chicken cells were excellent IFN inducers with high DIP:IFP ratios in mammalian cells, and vice versa. The high DIP:IFP ratios and computer-simulated dynamics of infection suggested that DIP, as an individual particle, did not function as an IFP. The higher efficiency of IFPs in the presence of DIPs was attributed to reduced amounts of newly synthesized viral polymerase known to result from out-competition by defective-interfering RNAs, and the subsequent failure of that polymerase to turn-off cellular mRNA transcription-including IFN-mRNA.

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