Sindbis virus (SINV) is an alphavirus that causes age-dependent encephalomyelitis in mice. Within 7–8 days after infection infectious virus is cleared from neurons through the antiviral effects of antibody and interferon-gamma (IFNγ), but RNA persists. To better understand changes in viral RNA associated with immune-mediated clearance we developed recombinant strains of SINV that have genomic and subgenomic viral RNAs tagged with the Broccoli RNA aptamer that binds and activates a conditional fluorophore for live cell imaging of RNA. Treatment of SINV-Broccoli-infected cells with antibody to the SINV E2 glycoprotein had cell type-specific effects. In BHK cells, antibody increased levels of intracellular viral RNA and changed the primary location of genomic RNA from the perinuclear region to the plasma membrane without improving cell viability. In undifferentiated and differentiated AP7 (dAP7) neuronal cells, antibody treatment decreased levels of viral RNA. Occasional dAP7 cells escaped antibody-mediated clearance by not expressing cell surface E2 or binding antibody to the plasma membrane. IFNγ decreased viral RNA levels only in dAP7 cells and synergized with antibody for RNA clearance and improved cell survival. Therefore, analysis of aptamer-tagged SINV RNAs identified cell type- and neuronal maturation-dependent responses to immune mediators of virus clearance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas