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Differences in Type I interferon response in human lung epithelial cells infected by highly pathogenic H5N1 and low pathogenic H11N1 avian influenza viruses

Thube, MilindM., Shil, Pratip, Kasbe, Rewati, Patil, AvinashA., Pawar, ShaileshD., Mullick, Jayati
Virus genes 2018 v.54 no.3 pp. 414-423
Influenza A virus, bioinformatics, epithelial cells, epithelium, genes, humans, innate immunity, interferon-beta, lungs, sequence analysis, viral proteins, viruses, India
Influenza A virus infection induces type I interferons (IFNs α/β) which activate host antiviral responses through a cascade of IFN signaling events. Herein, we compared highly pathogenic H5N1 and low pathogenic H11N1 avian influenza viruses isolated from India, for their replication kinetics and ability to induce IFN-β and interferon-stimulating genes (ISGs). The H5N1 virus showed a higher replication rate and induced less IFN-β and ISGs compared to the H11N1 virus when grown in the human lung epithelial A549 cells, reflecting the generation of differential innate immune responses during infection by these viruses. The non-structural 1 (NS1) protein, a major IFN-antagonist, known to help the virus in evading host innate immune response was compared from both the strains using bioinformatics tools. Analyses revealed differences in the composition of the NS1 proteins from the two strains that may have an impact on the modulation of the innate immune response. Intriguingly, H5N1 virus attenuated IFN-β response in a non-NS1 manner, suggesting the possible involvement of other viral proteins (PB2, PA, PB1/PB1-F2) of H5N1 in synergy with NS1. Preliminary analyses of the above proteins of the two strains by sequence comparison show differences in charged residues. The insight gained will be useful in designing experimental studies to elucidate a probable role of the polymerase protein(s) in association with NS1 in inhibiting the IFN signaling and understanding the molecular mechanism governing the difference.