Equid herpesvirus 1 targets the sensitization and induction steps to inhibit the type I interferon response in equine endothelial cells

Fatai S. Oladunni, Sanjay Sarkar, Stephanie Reedy, Udeni B.R. Balasuriya, David W. Horohov, Thomas M. Chambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Equid herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) is a viral pathogen of horse populations worldwide spread by the respiratory route and is known for causing outbreaks of neurologic syndromes and abortion storms. Previously, we demonstrated that an EHV-1 strain of the neuropathogenic genotype, T953, downregulates the beta interferon (IFN-β) response in vitro in equine endothelial cells (EECs) at 12 h postinfection (hpi). In the present study, we explored the molecular correlates of this inhibition as clues toward an understanding of the mechanism. Data from our study revealed that EHV-1 infection of EECs significantly reduced both Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and TLR4 mRNA expression at 6 hpi and 12 hpi. While EHV-1 was able to significantly reduce IRF9 mRNA at both 6 hpi and 12 hpi, the virus significantly reduced IFN regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) mRNA only at 12 hpi. EHV-1 did not alter the cellular level of Janus-activated kinase 1 (JAK1) at any time point. However, EHV-1 reduced the cellular level of expression of tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) at 12 hpi. Downstream of JAK1-TYK2 signaling, EHV-1 blocked the phosphorylation and activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 2 (STAT2) when coincubated with exogenous IFN, at 12 hpi, although not at 3 or 6 hpi. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that the virus prevented the nuclear translocation of STAT2 molecules, confirming the virus-mediated inhibition of STAT2 activation. The pattern of suppression of phosphorylation of STAT2 by EHV-1 implicated viral late gene expression. These data help illuminate how EHV-1 strategically inhibits the host innate immune defense by limiting steps required for type I IFN sensitization and induction. IMPORTANCE To date, no commercial vaccine label has a claim to be fully protective against the diseases caused by equid herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1), especially the neurologic form. The interferon (IFN) system, of which type I IFN is of great importance, still remains a viable immunotherapeutic option against EHV-1 infection. The type I IFN system has been exploited successfully to treat other viral infections, such as chronic hepatitis B and C in humans. The current state of research on how EHV-1 interferes with the protective effect of type I IFN has indicated transient induction of type I IFN production followed by a rapid shutdown in vitro in equine endothelial cells (EECs). The significance of our study is the identification of certain steps in the type I IFN signaling pathway targeted for inhibition by EHV-1. Understanding this pathogen-host relationship is essential for the long-term goal of developing effective immunotherapy against EHV-1.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01342-19
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


  • EHV-1
  • ISGF3
  • Innate immunity
  • STAT2
  • TLR
  • TYK2
  • Type I IFN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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