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Association of Mx1 Asn631 variant alleles with reductions in morbidity, early mortality, viral shedding, and cytokine responses in chickens infected with a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus

Ewald, Sandra J., Kapezynski, Darrell R., Livant, Emily J., Suarez, David L., Ralph, John, McLeod, Scott, Miller, Carolyn
Immunogenetics 2011 v.63 no.6 pp. 363
Influenza A virus, alleles, amino acids, antiviral properties, broiler chickens, complementary DNA, cytokines, dimorphism, disease resistance, homozygosity, immunogenetics, in vitro studies, in vivo studies, influenza, interferons, mammals, morbidity, mortality, nucleotide sequences, pathogenesis, pathogenicity, proteins, sequence analysis, transcription factors, viral load, viral shedding, virus replication, viruses
Myxovirus-resistance (Mx) proteins are produced by host cells in response to type I interferons, and some members of the Mx gene family in mammals have been shown to limit replication of influenza and other viruses. According to an early report, chicken Mx1 variants encoding Asn at position 631 have antiviral activity, whereas variants with Ser at 631 lack activity in experiments evaluating Mx1 complementary DNA (cDNA) expressed ectopically in a cell line. We evaluated whether the Mx1 631 dimorphism influenced pathogenesis of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) infection in chickens of two commercial broiler lines, each segregating for Asn631 and Ser631 variants. Following intranasal infection with HPAIV strain A/Chicken/Queretaro/14588- 19/1995 H5N2, chickens homozygous for Asn631 allele were significantly more resistant to disease based on early mortality, morbidity, or virus shedding than Ser631 homozygotes. Higher amounts of splenic cytokine transcripts were observed in the Ser631 birds after infection, consistent with higher viral loads seen in this group and perhaps contributing to their higher morbidity. Nucleotide sequence determination of Mx1 cDNAs demonstrated that the Asn631 variants in the two chicken lines differed at several amino acid positions outside 631. In vitro experiments with a different influenza strain (low pathogenicity) failed to demonstrate an effect of Mx1 Asn631 on viral replication suggesting that in vivo responses may differ markedly from in vitro, or that choice of virus strain may be critical in demonstrating effects of chicken Mx1. Overall, these studies provide the first evidence that Mx1 has antiviral effects in chickens infected with influenza virus.