Virus-Induced Transcriptional Changes in the Brain Include the Differential Expression of Genes Associated with Interferon, Apoptosis, Interleukin 17 Receptor A, and Glutamate Signaling as Well as Flavivirus-Specific Upregulation of tRNA Synthetases

Flaviviruses, particularly Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and West Nile virus (WNV), are important causes of virus-induced central nervous system (CNS) disease in humans. We used microarray analysis to identify cellular genes that are differentially regulated following infection of the brain with JEV (P3) or WNV (New York 99). Gene expression data for these flaviviruses were compared to those obtained following infection of the brain with reovirus (type 3 Dearing), an unrelated neurotropic virus. We found that a large number of genes were up-regulated by all three viruses (using the criteria of a change of >2-fold and a P value of <0.001), including genes associated with interferon signaling, the immune system, inflammation, and cell death/survival signaling. In addition, genes associated with glutamate signaling were down-regulated in infections with all three viruses (criteria, a >2-fold change and a P value of <0.001). These genes may serve as broad-spectrum therapeutic targets for virus-induced CNS disease. A distinct set of genes were up-regulated following flavivirus infection but not following infection with reovirus. These genes were associated with tRNA charging and may serve as therapeutic targets for flavivirus-induced CNS disease.
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