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Commensal microbes and interferon-λ determine persistence of enteric murine norovirus infection

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Science  16 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6219, pp. 266-269
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258025

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Turning viral persistence on and off

Norovirus causes >90% of the world's gastroenteritis. Norovirus can establish persistent infections, which may contribute to its spread. How does norovirus establish itself as a permanentw resident of the gut and how can such persistent infections be cured (see the Perspective by Wilks and Golovkina)? Baldridge et al. studied mice persistently infected with norovirus and found that viral persistence required the gut microbiota: resident bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Antibiotics prevented persistent mouse norovirus infection in a way that depended on the secreted antiviral protein interferon λ (IFN-λ). Nice et al. report that IFN-λ can cure mice persistently infected with norovirus, independent of the adaptive immune system.

Science, this issue p. 266, p. 269; see also p. 233

Abstract

The capacity of human norovirus (NoV), which causes >90% of global epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis, to infect a subset of people persistently may contribute to its spread. How such enteric viruses establish persistent infections is not well understood. We found that antibiotics prevented persistent murine norovirus (MNoV) infection, an effect that was reversed by replenishment of the bacterial microbiota. Antibiotics did not prevent tissue infection or affect systemic viral replication but acted specifically in the intestine. The receptor for the antiviral cytokine interferon-λ, Ifnlr1, as well as the transcription factors Stat1 and Irf3, were required for antibiotics to prevent viral persistence. Thus, the bacterial microbiome fosters enteric viral persistence in a manner counteracted by specific components of the innate immune system.

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