Sindbis virus induces apoptotic cell death in cultured cell lines, raising the possibility that apoptosis of infected neurons and other target cells in vivo may contribute to the resulting disease and mortality. To investigate the role of apoptosis in Sindbis virus pathogenesis, infected mouse brains were assayed by the in situ terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling technique and for DNA ladder formation. Infection with recombinant Sindbis virus strain 633 resulted in widespread apoptosis in newborn mouse brains and spinal cords, but few apoptotic cells were observed following infection of 2-week-old animals. This finding correlates with the age-dependent mortality observed in mice. The more neurovirulent virus TE, which differs from 633 by a single amino acid in the E2 glycoprotein, induced significant apoptosis in brains and spinal cords of 2-week-old animals, consistent with its ability to cause fatal disease in older animals. Double- labeling experiments demonstrated that the apoptotic cells were also infected with Sindbis virus. Thus, Sindbis virus-induced apoptosis appears to be a direct result of virus infection and is likely to reflect pathogenic mechanisms for other viruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science