Pattern recognition receptor MDA5 modulates CD8+ T cell- dependent clearance of west nile virus from the central nervous system

Helen M. Lazear, Amelia K. Pinto, Hilario J. Ramos, Sarah C. Vick, Bimmi Shrestha, Mehul S. Suthar, Michael Gale, Michael S. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Many viruses induce type I interferon responses by activating cytoplasmic RNA sensors, including the RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs). Although two members of the RLR family, RIG-I and MDA5, have been implicated in host control of virus infection, the relative role of each RLR in restricting pathogenesis in vivo remains unclear. Recent studies have demonstrated that MAVS, the adaptor central to RLR signaling, is required to trigger innate immune defenses and program adaptive immune responses, which together restrict West Nile virus (WNV) infection in vivo. In this study, we examined the specific contribution of MDA5 in controlling WNV in animals. MDA5-/- mice exhibited enhanced susceptibility, as characterized by reduced survival and elevated viral burden in the central nervous system (CNS) at late times after infection, even though small effects on systemic type I interferon response or viral replication were observed in peripheral tissues. Intracranial inoculation studies and infection experiments with primary neurons ex vivo revealed that an absence of MDA5 did not impact viral infection in neurons directly. Rather, subtle defects were observed in CNS-specific CD8+ T cells in MDA5-/- mice. Adoptive transfer into recipient MDA5-/- mice established that a non-cell-autonomous deficiency of MDA5 was associated with functional defects in CD8+ T cells, which resulted in a failure to clear WNV efficiently from CNS tissues. Our studies suggest that MDA5 in the immune priming environment shapes optimal CD8+ T cell activation and subsequent clearance of WNV from the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11401-11415
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2013


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