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

Apoptosis: a mechanism of cell killing by influenza A and B viruses.

In previous studies, we observed that the virulent avian influenza A virus A/Turkey/Ontario/7732/66 (Ty/Ont) induced severe lymphoid depletion in vivo and rapidly killed an avian lymphocyte cell line ( RP9) in vitro. In examining the mechanism of cell killing by this virus, we found that Ty/Ont induced fragmentation of the RP9 cellular DNA into a 200-bp ladder and caused ultrastructural changes characteristic of apoptotic cell death by 5 h after infection. We next determined that the ability to induce apoptosis was not unique to Ty/Ont. In fact, a variety of influenza A viruses (avian, equine, swine, and human), as well as human influenza B viruses, induced DNA fragmentation in a permissive mammalian cell line, Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK), and this correlated with the development of a cytopathic effect during viral infection. Since the proto-oncogene bcl-2 is a known inhibitor of apoptosis, we transfected MDCK cells with the human bcl-2 gene; these stably transfected cells (MDCKbcl-2) did not undergo DNA fragmentation after virus infection. In addition, cytotoxicity assays at 48 to 72 h after virus infection showed a high level of cell viability for MDCKbcl-2 compared with a markedly lower level of viability for MDCK cells. These studies indicate that influenza A and B viruses induce apoptosis in cell cultures; thus, apoptosis may represent a general mechanism of cell death in hosts infected with influenza viruses.[1]


  1. Apoptosis: a mechanism of cell killing by influenza A and B viruses. Hinshaw, V.S., Olsen, C.W., Dybdahl-Sissoko, N., Evans, D. J. Virol. (1994) [Pubmed]
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