Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection causes severe mortality involving multiple possible mechanisms, including cytokine storm, brain stem encephalitis, and fulminant pulmonary edema. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) may confer anti-EV71 activity; however, the claim that disease severity is highly correlated to an increase in IFN-γ is controversial and would indicate an immune escape initiated by EV71. This study, investigating the role of IFN-γ in EV71 infection using a murine model, showed that IFN-γ was elevated. Moreover, IFN-γ receptor-deficient mice showed higher mortality rates and more severe disease progression with slower viral clearance than wild-type mice. In vitro results showed that IFN-γ pretreatment reduced EV71 yield, whereas EV71 infection caused IFN-γ resistance with attenuated IFN-γ signaling in IFN regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) gene transactivation. To study the immunoediting ability of EV71 proteins in IFN-γ signaling, 11 viral proteins were stably expressed in cells without cytotoxicity; however, viral proteins 2A and 3D blocked IFN-γ-induced IRF1 transactivation following a loss of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) nuclear translocation. Viral 3D attenuated IFN-γ signaling accompanied by a STAT1 decrease without interfering with IFN-γ receptor expression. Restoration of STAT1 or blocking 3D activity was able to rescue IFN-γ signaling. Interestingly, viral 2A attenuated IFN-γ signaling using another mechanism by reducing the serine phosphorylation of STAT1 following the inactivation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase without affecting STAT1 expression. These results demonstrate the anti-EV71 ability of IFN-γ and the immunoediting ability by EV71 2A and 3D, which attenuate IFN-γ signaling through different mechanisms.
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