BCL-2 and BAX protect adult mice from lethal Sindbis virus infection but do not protect spinal cord motor neurons or prevent paralysis

Douglas A. Kerr, Thomas Larsen, Susan H. Cook, Yih Ru Fannjiang, Eunkyung Choi, Diane E. Griffin, J. Marie Hardwick, David N. Irani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Cellular proteins that regulate apoptotic cell death can modulate the outcome of Sindbis virus (SV) encephalitis in mice. Both endogenous and overexpressed BCL-2 and BAX proteins protect newborn mice from fatal SV infection by blocking apoptosis in infected neurons. To determine the effects of these cellular factors on the course of infection in older animals, a more neurovirulent SV vector (dsNSV) was constructed from a viral strain that causes both prominent spinal cord infection with hind-limb paralysis and death in weanling mice. This vector has allowed assessment of the effects of BCL-2 and BAX on both mortality and paralysis in these hosts. Similar to newborn hosts, weanling mice infected with dsNSV encoding BCL-2 or BAX survived better than animals infected with control viruses. This finding indicates that BCL-2 and BAX both protect neurons that mediate host survival. Neither cellular factor, however, could suppress the development of hind-limb paralysis or prevent the degeneration of motor neurons in the lumbar spinal cord. Infection of BAX knockout mice with dsNSV demonstrated that endogenous BAX also enhances the survival of animals but has no effect on paralysis. These findings for the spinal cord are consistent with earlier data showing that dying lumbar motor neurons do not exhibit an apoptotic morphology. Thus, divergent cell death pathways are activated in different target populations of neurons during neurovirulent SV infection of weanling mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10393-10400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Volume76
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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