Successful Transmission of a Retrovirus Depends on the Commensal Microbiota

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  14 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6053, pp. 245-249
DOI: 10.1126/science.1210718

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


To establish chronic infections, viruses must develop strategies to evade the host’s immune responses. Many retroviruses, including mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV), are transmitted most efficiently through mucosal surfaces rich in microbiota. We found that MMTV, when ingested by newborn mice, stimulates a state of unresponsiveness toward viral antigens. This process required the intestinal microbiota, as antibiotic-treated mice or germ-free mice did not transmit infectious virus to their offspring. MMTV-bound bacterial lipopolysaccharide triggered Toll-like receptor 4 and subsequent interleukin-6 (IL-6)–dependent induction of the inhibitory cytokine IL-10. Thus, MMTV has evolved to rely on the interaction with the microbiota to induce an immune evasion pathway. Together, these findings reveal the fundamental importance of commensal microbiota in viral infections.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science

Editor's Blog