Type I interferon (IFN-I) plays a pivotal role during viral infection response in the central nervous system (CNS). The IFN-I can orchestrate and regulate most of the innate immune gene expression and myeloid cell dynamics following a noncytopathic virus infection. However, the role of IFN-I in the CNS against viral encephalitis is not entirely clear. Here we have implemented the combination of global differential gene expression profiling followed by bioinformatics analysis to decipher the CNS immune response in the presence and absence of the IFN-I signaling. We observed that vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection induced 281 gene changes in wild-type (WT) mice primarily associated with IFN-I signaling. This was accompanied by an increase in antiviral response through leukocyte vascular patrolling and leukocyte influx along with the expression of potent antiviral factors. Surprisingly, in the absence of the IFN-I signaling (IFNAR−/−
mice), a significantly higher (1357) number of genes showed differential expression compared to the WT mice. Critical candidates such as IFN-γ, CCL5, CXCL10, and IRF1, which are responsible for the recruitment of the patrolling leukocytes, are also upregulated in the absence of IFN-I signaling. The computational network analysis suggests the presence of the IFN-I independent pathway that compensates for the lack of IFN-I signaling in the brain. The analysis shows that TNF-α is connected maximally to the networked candidates, thus emerging as a key regulator of gene expression and recruitment of myeloid cells to mount antiviral action. This pathway could potentiate IFN-γ release; thereby, synergistically activating IRF1-dependent ISG expression and antiviral response.
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