Inhibition of protein synthesis represents one of the antiviral mechanisms employed by cells and it is also used by viruses for their own propagation. To what extent members of the Birnaviridae
family employ such strategies is not well understood. Here we use a type-strain of the Aquabirnavirus, infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV), to investigate this phenomenon in vitro
. CHSE-214 cells were infected with IPNV and at 3, 12, 24, and 48 hours post infection (hpi) before the cells were harvested and labeled with S35
methionine to assess protein synthesis. eIF2α phosphorylation was examined by Western blot while RT-qPCR was used to assess virus replication and the expression levels of IFN-α, Mx1 and PKR. Cellular responses to IPNV infection were assessed by DNA laddering, Caspase-3 assays and flow cytometry. The results show that the onset and kinetics of eIF2α phosphorylation was similar to that of protein synthesis inhibition as shown by metabolic labeling. Increased virus replication and virus protein formation was observed by 12 hpi, peaking at 24 hpi. Apoptosis was induced in a small fraction (1−2%) of IPNV-infected CHSE cells from 24 hpi while necrotic/late apoptotic cells increased from 10% by 24 hpi to 59% at 48 hpi, as shown by flow cytometry. These results were in accordance with a small decline in cell viability by 24hpi, dropping below 50% by 48 hpi. IPNV induced IFN-α mRNA upregulation by 24 hpi while no change was observed in the expression of Mx1 and PKR mRNA. Collectively, these findings show that IPNV induces inhibition of protein synthesis in CHSE cells through phosphorylation of eIF2α with minimal involvement of apoptosis. The anticipation is that protein inhibition is used by the virus to evade the host innate antiviral responses.
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