Biphasic and cardiomyocyte-specific IFIT activity protects cardiomyocytes from enteroviral infection

by Taishi Kimura, Claudia T. Flynn, Mehrdad Alirezaei, Ganes C. Sen, J. Lindsay Whitton

Viral myocarditis is a serious disease, commonly caused by type B coxsackieviruses (CVB). Here we show that innate immune protection against CVB3 myocarditis requires the IFIT (IFN-induced with tetratricopeptide) locus, which acts in a biphasic manner. Using IFIT locus knockout (IFITKO) cardiomyocytes we show that, in the absence of the IFIT locus, viral replication is dramatically increased, indicating that constitutive IFIT expression suppresses CVB replication in this cell type. IFNβ pre-treatment strongly suppresses CVB3 replication in wild type (wt) cardiomyocytes, but not in IFITKO cardiomyocytes, indicating that other interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) cannot compensate for the loss of IFITs in this cell type. Thus, in isolated wt cardiomyocytes, the anti-CVB3 activity of IFITs is biphasic, being required for protection both before and after T1IFN signaling. These in vitro findings are replicated in vivo. Using novel IFITKO mice we demonstrate accelerated CVB3 replication in pancreas, liver and heart in the hours following infection. This early increase in virus load in IFITKO animals accelerates the induction of other ISGs in several tissues, enhancing virus clearance from some tissues, indicating that–in contrast to cardiomyocytes–other ISGs can offset the loss of IFITs from those cell types. In contrast, CVB3 persists in IFITKO hearts, and myocarditis occurs. Thus, cardiomyocytes have a specific, biphasic, and near-absolute requirement for IFITs to control CVB infection.

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