Expression of interferon-induced antiviral genes is delayed in a STAT1 knockout mouse model of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
1 Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Institute for Human Infections & Immunity, Galveston, TX, USA
2 Center for Tropical Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA
3 Special Pathogens Program, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
4 Department of Microbiology & Immunology, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX, 77555-0610, USA
Virology Journal 2012, 9:122 doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-122Published: 19 June 2012
Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne hemorrhagic zoonosis associated with high mortality. Pathogenesis studies and the development of vaccines and antivirals against CCHF have been severely hampered by the lack of suitable animal model. We recently developed and characterized a mature mouse model for CCHF using mice carrying STAT1 knockout (KO).
Given the importance of interferons in controlling viral infections, we investigated the expression of interferon pathway-associated genes in KO and wild-type (WT) mice challenged with CCHF virus. We expected that the absence of the STAT1 protein would result in minimal expression of IFN-related genes. Surprisingly, the KO mice showed high levels of IFN-stimulated gene expression, beginning on day 2 post-infection, while in WT mice challenged with virus the same genes were expressed at similar levels on day 1.
We conclude that CCHF virus induces similar type I IFN responses in STAT1 KO and WT mice, but the delayed response in the KO mice permits rapid viral dissemination and fatal illness.