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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

RNase L plays a role in the antiviral response to West Nile virus.

Alleles at the Flv locus determine disease outcome after a flavivirus infection in mice. Although comparable numbers of congenic resistant and susceptible mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) are infected by the flavivirus West Nile virus (WNV), resistant MEFs produce approximately 100- to 150-fold lower titers than susceptible ones and flavivirus titers in the brains of resistant and susceptible animals can differ by >10,000-fold. The Flv locus was previously identified as the 2'-5' oligoadenylate synthetase 1b (Oas1b) gene. Oas gene expression is up-regulated by interferon (IFN), and after activation by double-stranded RNA, some mouse synthetases produce 2-5A, which activates latent RNase L to degrade viral and cellular RNAs. To determine whether the lower levels of intracellular flavivirus genomic RNA from resistant mice detected in cells at all times after infection were mediated by RNase L, RNase L activity levels in congenic resistant and susceptible cells were compared. Similar moderate levels of RNase L activation by transfected 2-5A were observed in both types of uninfected cells. After WNV infection, the mRNAs of IFN-beta and three Oas genes were up-regulated to similar levels in both types of cells. However, significant levels of RNase L activity were not detected until 72 h after WNV infection and the patterns of viral RNA cleavage products generated were similar in both types of cells. When RNase L activity was down-regulated in resistant cells via stable expression of a dominant negative RNase L mutant, approximately 5- to 10-times-higher yields of WNV were produced. Similarly, about approximately 5- to 10-times-higher virus yields were produced by susceptible C57BL/6 RNase L-/- cells compared to RNase L+/+ cells that were either left untreated or pretreated with IFN and/or poly(I) . poly(C). The data indicate that WNV genomic RNA is susceptible to RNase L cleavage and that RNase L plays a role in the cellular antiviral response to flaviviruses. The results suggest that RNase L activation is not a major component of the Oas1b-mediated flavivirus resistance phenotype.[1]


  1. RNase L plays a role in the antiviral response to West Nile virus. Scherbik, S.V., Paranjape, J.M., Stockman, B.M., Silverman, R.H., Brinton, M.A. J. Virol. (2006) [Pubmed]
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