Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Brian B Gowen


Brian B Gowen


Dale L. Barnard


Lee Rickords


Kenneth L. White


The Adames strain of Punta Toro virus (PTV-A) causes acute hepatic disease in hamsters and mice similar to that seen in natural Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) infection, while the Balliet strain (PTV-B) is apathogenic. The ability of PTV-A to suppress the interferon (IFN) response has been demonstrated in hamsters and is thought to be a contributing factor to PTV-A's pathogenicity in hamsters. PTV-B is not assumed to exhibit this IFN-antagonistic activity, as it stimulates production of significantly higher IFN-β levels. To elucidate the role of IFN in resistance of mice to PTV-B infection, we utilized mice deficient in a critical IFN signaling protein, STAT-1. We found that these mice were drastically more susceptible to PTV-B, which caused 100% lethality compared to 0% in their wild-type counterparts. STAT-1 deficient mice were also more susceptible to PTV-A, as these mice succumbed to infection significantly earlier than wild-type mice (p=0.0058). We sought to determine whether PTV-A's IFN-antagonistic mechanism is functional in mice by examining expression of IFN-β in primary macrophages infected with either strain. We found that IFN-β protein concentration is higher in samples taken from PTV-B-infected cells. We employed quantitative PCR arrays specific to IFN signaling and response pathways to evaluate changes in gene expression throughout the course of infection with either virus strain. We found several genes with differentially regulated expression between PTV-A- and PTV-B-infected macrophages, including Ifnβ1 and multiple Ifnα subtypes. Also, several genes coding for inflammatory and chemotactic molecules, Cxcl11, Cxcl10, Cxcl9, Vcam1, and Il6, demonstrated increased expression in PTV-B samples compared to PTV-A. Of particular interest, Isg20, a 3'-5' exonuclease with specificity for single-stranded RNA, was stimulated ~2-fold higher by PTV-B, and Iigp1, from the family of GTPases associated with host defense against intracellular pathogens, was stimulated ~2.7-fold higher by PTV-B. The individual functions of each of these genes in mouse resistance to PTV-B could be a focus of future studies to better understand essential host defense mechanisms to phleboviral infection.



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