Norovirus (NoV) is the leading global cause of viral gastroenteritis. Young children bear the highest burden of disease and play a key role in viral transmission throughout the population. However, which host factors contribute to age-associated variability in NoV severity and shedding are not well-defined. The murine NoV (MNoV) strain CR6 causes persistent infection in adult mice and targets intestinal tuft cells. Here we find that natural transmission of CR6 from infected dams occurred only in juvenile mice. Direct oral CR6 inoculation of wild-type neonatal mice led to accumulation of viral RNA in the ileum and prolonged shedding in the stool that was replication-independent. This viral exposure induced both innate and adaptive immune responses including interferon-stimulated gene expression and MNoV-specific antibody responses. Interestingly, viral uptake depended on passive ileal absorption of luminal virus, a process blocked by cortisone acetate administration, which prevented ileal viral RNA accumulation. Neonates lacking interferon signalling in haematopoietic cells were susceptible to productive infection, viral dissemination and lethality, which depended on the canonical MNoV receptor CD300LF. Together, our findings reveal developmentally associated aspects of persistent MNoV infection, including distinct tissue and cellular tropism, mechanisms of interferon regulation and severity of infection in the absence of interferon signalling. These emphasize the importance of defining viral pathogenesis phenotypes across the developmental spectrum and highlight passive viral uptake as an important contributor to enteric infections in early life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1107
Number of pages13
JournalNature microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


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