A mouse model for human norovirus

Stefan Taube, Abimbola O. Kolawole, Marina Höhne, John E. Wilkinson, Scott A. Handley, Jeffrey W. Perry, Larissa B. Thackray, Ramesh Akkina, Christiane E. Wobus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations

Abstract

Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. However, despite substantial efforts, a small-animal model for HuNoV has not been described to date. Since "humanized" mice have been successfully used to study human-tropic pathogens in the past, we challenged BALB/c mice deficient in recombination activation gene (Rag) 1 or 2 and common gamma chain (γc) (Rag-γc) engrafted with human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells, nonengrafted siblings, and immunocompetent wild-type controls with pooled stool isolates from patients positive for HuNoV. Surprisingly, both humanized and nonhumanized BALB/c Rag-γc-deficient mice supported replication of a GII.4 strain of HuNoV, as indicated by increased viral loads over input. In contrast, immunocompetent wild-type BALB/c mice were not infected. An intraperitoneal route of infection and the BALB/c genetic background were important for facilitating a subclinical HuNoV infection of Rag-γc-deficient mice. Expression of structural and nonstructural proteins was detected in cells with macrophage-like morphology in the spleens and livers of BALB/c Rag-γc-deficient mice, confirming the ability of HuNoV to replicate in a mouse model. In summary, HuNoV replication in BALB/c Rag-γc-deficient mice is dependent on the immune-deficient status of the host but not on the presence of human immune cells and provides the first genetically manipulable small-animal model for studying HuNoV infection. IMPORTANCE Human noroviruses are a significant cause of viral gastroenteritis worldwide, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Antivirals and vaccines are currently not available, in part due to the inability to study these viruses in a genetically manipulable, small-animal model. Herein, we report the first mouse model for human noroviruses. This model will accelerate our understanding of human norovirus biology and provide a useful resource for evaluating antiviral therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00450-13
JournalmBio
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 16 2013

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