Cell-type- and region-specific restriction of neurotropic flavivirus infection by viperin

Richard Lindqvist, Chaitanya Kurhade, Jonathan D. Gilthorpe, Anna K. Överby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Flaviviruses are a group of diverse and emerging arboviruses and an immense global health problem. A number of flaviviruses are neurotropic, causing severe encephalitis and even death. Type I interferons (IFNs) are the first line of defense of the innate immune system against flavivirus infection. IFNs elicit the concerted action of numerous interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) to restrict both virus infection and replication. Viperin (virus-inhibitory protein, endoplasmic reticulum-associated, IFN-inducible) is an ISG with broad-spectrum antiviral activity against multiple flaviviruses in vitro. Its activity in vivo restricts neurotropic infections to specific regions of the central nervous system (CNS). However, the cell types in which viperin activity is required are unknown. Here we have examined both the regional and cell-type specificity of viperin in the defense against infection by several model neurotropic flaviviruses. Methods: Viral burden and IFN induction were analyzed in vivo in wild-type and viperin -/- mice infected with Langat virus (LGTV). The effects of IFN pretreatment were tested in vitro in primary neural cultures from different brain regions in response to infection with tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV), West Nile virus (WNV), and Zika virus (ZIKV). Results: Viperin activity restricted nonlethal LGTV infection in the spleen and the olfactory bulb following infection via a peripheral route. Viperin activity was also necessary to restrict LGTV replication in the olfactory bulb and the cerebrum following CNS infection, but not in the cerebellum. In vitro, viperin could restrict TBEV replication in primary cortical neurons, but not in the cerebellar granule cell neurons. Interferon-induced viperin was also very important in primary cortical neurons to control TBEV, WNV, and ZIKV. Conclusions: Our findings show that viperin restricts replication of neurotropic flaviviruses in the CNS in a region- and cell-type-specific manner. The most important sites of activity are the olfactory bulb and cerebrum. Activity within the cerebrum is required in the cortical neurons in order to restrict spread. This study exemplifies cell type and regional diversity of the IFN response within the CNS and shows the importance of a potent broad-spectrum antiviral ISG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number80
JournalJournal of neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • Flavivirus
  • Interferon
  • Neurons
  • Viperin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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