The non-structural protein of influenza A virus (NS1A protein) is a multifunctional protein that antagonizes host antiviral responses and contributes to efficient viral replication during infection. However, most of its functions have been elucidated by generating recombinant viruses expressing mutated NS1 proteins that do not exist in nature. Recently, the novel H3N8 A/Equine/Kyonggi/SA1/2011 (KG11) influenza virus was isolated in Korea from horses showing respiratory disease symptoms. KG11 virus contains a naturally truncated NS gene segment with the truncation in the NS1A coding region, resulting in truncation of the effector domain of the NS1A protein. Using this KG11 virus, we investigated the role of truncated NS1A protein in the virus life cycle and its effect on host immune responses were compared to the A/Equine/Miami/1/1963 H3N8 (MA63) virus, which encodes a full-length NS1A protein. The replication of KG11 virus was attenuated by 2 logs in multiple-cycle growth, and its plaque size was significantly smaller than that of the MA63 virus. To understand the attenuation of KG11 virus, we evaluated the level of activation in Akt and interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) pathways and measured the induction of downstream genes. Our results showed that the activation of Akt was reduced, whereas phosphorylation of IRF-3 was increased in cells infected with KG11 virus when compared to MA63-virus-infected cells. We also determined that the expression of antiviral and pro-inflammatory genes was significantly increased. Taken together, these results revealed that the KG11 virus expressing the naturally truncated NS1A protein impairs the inhibition of host antiviral responses, thereby resulting in the attenuation of viral replication.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 11, 2016
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