Inflammation-induced reactivation of the ranavirus Frog Virus 3 in asymptomatic Xenopus laevis.
ABSTRACT: Natural infections of ectothermic vertebrates by ranaviruses (RV, family Iridoviridae) are rapidly increasing, with an alarming expansion of RV tropism and resulting die-offs of numerous animal populations. Notably, infection studies of the amphibian Xenopus laevis with the ranavirus Frog Virus 3 (FV3) have revealed that although the adult frog immune system is efficient at controlling RV infections, residual quiescent virus can be detected in mononuclear phagocytes of otherwise asymptomatic animals following the resolution of RV infections. It is noteworthy that macrophage-lineage cells are now believed to be a critical element in the RV infection strategy. In the present work, we report that inflammation induced by peritoneal injection of heat-killed bacteria in asymptomatic frogs one month after infection with FV3 resulted in viral reactivation including detectable viral DNA and viral gene expression in otherwise asymptomatic frogs. FV3 reactivation was most prominently detected in kidneys and in peritoneal HAM56+ mononuclear phagocytes. Notably, unlike adult frogs that typically clear primary FV3 infections, a proportion of the animals succumbed to the reactivated FV3 infection, indicating that previous exposure does not provide protection against subsequent reactivation in these animals.
Project description:The increasing prevalence of ranavirus (RV; Iridoviridae) infections of wild and commercially maintained aquatic species is raising considerable concerns. While Xenopus laevis is the leading model for studies of immunity to RV, amphibian antiviral interferon (IFN) responses remain largely uncharacterized. Accordingly, an X. laevis type I interferon was identified, the expression of the gene for this IFN was examined in RV (frog virus 3 [FV3])-infected tadpoles and adult frogs by quantitative PCR, and a recombinant form of this molecule (recombinant X. laevis interferon [rXlIFN]) was produced for the purpose of functional studies. This rXlIFN protected the kidney-derived A6 cell line and tadpoles against FV3 infection, decreasing the infectious viral burdens in both cases. Adult frogs are naturally resistant to FV3 and clear the infection within a few weeks, whereas tadpoles typically succumb to this virus. Hence, as predicted, virus-infected adult X. laevis frogs exhibited significantly more robust FV3-elicited IFN gene expression than tadpoles; nevertheless, they also tolerated substantially greater viral burdens following infection. Although tadpole stimulation with rXlIFN prior to FV3 challenge markedly impaired viral replication and viral burdens, it only transiently extended tadpole survival and did not prevent the eventual mortality of these animals. Furthermore, histological analysis revealed that despite rXlIFN treatment, infected tadpoles had considerable organ damage, including disrupted tissue architecture and extensive necrosis and apoptosis. Conjointly, these findings indicate a critical protective role for the amphibian type I IFN response during ranaviral infections and suggest that these viruses are more pathogenic to tadpole hosts than was previously believed, causing extensive and fatal damage to multiple organs, even at very low titers.Ranavirus infections are threatening wild and commercially maintained aquatic species. The amphibian Xenopus laevis is extensively utilized as an infection model for studying ranavirus-host immune interactions. However, little is known about amphibian antiviral immunity and, specifically, type I interferons (IFNs), which are central to the antiviral defenses of other vertebrates. Accordingly, we identified and characterized an X. laevis type I interferon in the context of infection with the ranavirus frog virus 3 (FV3). FV3-infected adult frogs displayed more robust IFN gene expression than tadpoles, possibly explaining why they typically clear FV3 infections, whereas tadpoles succumb to them. Pretreatment with a recombinant X. laevis IFN (rXlIFN) substantially reduced viral replication and infectious viral burdens in a frog kidney cell line and in tadpoles. Despite reducing FV3 loads and extending the mean survival time, rXlIFN treatments failed to prevent tadpole tissue damage and mortality. Thus, FV3 is more pathogenic than was previously believed, even at very low titers.
Project description:While amphibians around the globe are facing catastrophic declines, in part because of infections with pathogens such as the Frog Virus 3 (FV3) ranavirus; the mechanisms governing amphibian susceptibility and resistance to such pathogens remain poorly understood. The type I and type III interferon (IFN) cytokines represent a cornerstone of vertebrate antiviral immunity, while our recent work indicates that tadpoles and adult frogs of the amphibian Xenopus laevis may differ in their IFN responses to FV3. In this respect, it is notable that anuran (frogs and toads) tadpoles are significantly more susceptible to FV3 than adult frogs, and thus, gaining greater insight into the differences in the tadpole and adult frog antiviral immunity would be invaluable. Accordingly, we examined the FV3-elicited expression of a panel of type I and type III IFN genes in the skin (site of FV3 infection) and kidney (principal FV3 target) tissues and isolated cells of X. laevis tadpoles and adult frogs. We also examined the consequence of tadpole and adult frog skin and kidney cell stimulation with hallmark pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) on the IFN responses of these cells. Together, our findings indicate that tadpoles and adult frogs mount drastically distinct IFN responses to FV3 as well as to viral and non-viral PAMPs, while these expression differences do not appear to be the result of a distinct pattern recognition receptor expression by tadpoles and adults.
Project description:Ranaviruses such as frog virus 3 ([FV3] family Iridoviridae) are increasingly prevalent pathogens that infect reptiles, amphibians, and fish worldwide. Whereas studies in the frog Xenopus laevis have revealed the critical involvement of CD8 T-cell and antibody responses in host resistance to FV3, little is known about the role played by innate immunity to infection with this virus. We have investigated the occurrence, composition, activation status, and permissiveness to infection of peritoneal leukocytes (PLs) in Xenopus adults during FV3 infection by microscopy, flow cytometry, and reverse transcription-PCR. The total number of PLs and the relative fraction of activated mononucleated macrophage-like cells significantly increase as early as 1 day postinfection (dpi), followed by NK cells at 3 dpi, before the peak of the T-cell response at 6 dpi. FV3 infection also induces a rapid upregulation of proinflammatory genes including arginase 1, interleukin-1beta, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Although PLs are susceptible to FV3 infection, as evidenced by apoptotic cells, active FV3 transcription, and the detection of viral particles by electron microscopy, the infection is weaker (fewer infectious particles), more transitory, and involves a smaller fraction (less than 1%) of PLs than the kidney, the main site of infection. However, viral DNA remains detectable in PLs for at least 3 weeks postinfection, past the point of viral clearance observed in the kidneys. This suggests that although PLs are actively involved in anti-FV3 immune responses, some of these cells can be permissive and harbor quiescent, asymptomatic FV3.
Project description:Macrophage-lineage cells are indispensable to vertebrate homeostasis and immunity. In turn, macrophage development is largely regulated through colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF1) binding to its cognate receptor (CSF1R). To study amphibian monopoiesis, we identified and characterized the X. laevis CSF1R cDNA transcript. Quantitative analysis revealed that CSF1R tissue gene expression increased with X. laevis development, with greatest transcript levels detected in the adult lung, spleen and liver tissues. Notably, considerable levels of CSF1R mRNA were also detected in the regressing tails of metamorphosing animals, suggesting macrophage involvement in this process, and in the adult bone marrow; corroborating the roles for this organ in Xenopus monopoiesis. Following animal infections with the ranavirus Frog Virus 3 (FV3), both tadpole and adult X. laevis exhibited increased kidney CSF1R gene expression. Conversely, while FV3-infected tadpoles increased their spleen and liver CSF1R mRNA levels, the FV3-challenged adults did not. Notably, FV3 induced elevated bone marrow CSF1R expression, and while stimulation of tadpoles with heat-killed E. coli had no transcriptional effects, bacterial stimulation of adult frogs resulted in significantly increased spleen, liver and bone marrow CSF1R expression. We produced the X. laevis CSF1R in recombinant form (rXlCSF1R) and determined, via in vitro cross-linking studies, that two molecules of rXlCSF1R bound the dimeric rXlCSF1. Finally, administration of rXlCSF1R abrogated the rXlCSF1-induced tadpole macrophage recruitment and differentiation as well as bacterial and FV3-elicited peritoneal leukocyte accumulation. This work marks a step towards garnering greater understanding of the unique mechanisms governing amphibian macrophage biology.
Project description:We first review fundamental insights into anti-ranavirus immunity learned with the Xenopus laevis/ranavirus FV3 model that are generally applicable to ectothermic vertebrates. We then further investigate FV3 genes involved in immune evasion. Focusing on FV3 knockout (KO) mutants defective for a putative viral caspase activation and recruitment domain-containing (CARD)-like protein (?64R-FV3), a ?-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase homolog (?52L-FV3), and an immediate-early18kDa protein (FV3-?18K), we assessed the involvement of these viral genes in replication, dissemination and interaction with peritoneal macrophages in tadpole and adult frogs. Our results substantiate the role of 64R and 52L as critical immune evasion genes, promoting persistence and dissemination in the host by counteracting type III IFN in tadpoles and type I IFN in adult frogs. Comparably, the substantial accumulation of genome copy numbers and exacerbation of type I and III IFN gene expression responses but deficient release of infectious virus suggests that 18K is a viral regulatory gene.
Project description:Ranaviruses are pathogens associated with the decline of amphibian populations across much of their distribution. In North America, frog virus 3 (FV3) is a widely distributed pathogen with wild populations of amphibians harboring different lineages and putative recombinants between FV3 and common midwife toad virus (CMTV). These recombinants have higher pathogenicity, and CMTV-derived genes associated with virulence are reported in wild strains in Canada. However, while FV3 is linked to amphibian die-offs in North America, CMTVs have been reported only in commercial frog farms in North America. We sequenced complete genomes of 18 FV3 isolates from three amphibian species to characterize genetic diversity of the lineages in Canada and infer possible recombinant regions. The 18 FV3 isolates displayed different signals of recombination, varying from none to interspersed recombination with previously isolated CMTV-like viruses. In general, most recombination breakpoints were located within open reading frames (ORFs), generating new ORFs and proteins that were a mixture between FV3 and CMTV. A combined spatial and temporal phylogeny suggests the presence of the FV3 lineage in Canada is relatively contemporary (<100?years), corroborating the hypothesis that both CMTV- and FV3-like viruses spread to North America when the international commercial amphibian trade started. Our results highlight the importance of pathogen surveillance and viral dynamics using full genomes to more clearly understand the mechanisms of disease origin and spread.IMPORTANCE Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, and these declines have been linked to a number of anthropogenic factors, including disease. Among the pathogens associated with amphibian mortality, ranaviruses have caused massive die-offs across continents. In North America, frog virus 3 (FV3) is a widespread ranavirus that can infect wild and captive amphibians. In this study, we sequenced full FV3 genomes isolated from frogs in Canada. We report widespread recombination between FV3 and common midwife toad virus (CMTV). Phylogenies indicate a recent origin for FV3 in Canada, possibly as a result of international amphibian trade.
Project description:While global amphibian declines are associated with the spread of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), undetected concurrent co-infection by other pathogens may be little recognized threats to amphibians. Emerging viruses in the genus Ranavirus (Rv) also cause die-offs of amphibians and other ectotherms, but the extent of their distribution globally, or how co-infections with Bd impact amphibians are poorly understood. We provide the first report of Bd and Rv co-infection in South America, and the first report of Rv infections in the amphibian biodiversity hotspot of the Peruvian Andes, where Bd is associated with extinctions. Using these data, we tested the hypothesis that Bd or Rv parasites facilitate co-infection, as assessed by parasite abundance or infection intensity within individual adult frogs. Co-infection occurred in 30% of stream-dwelling frogs; 65% were infected by Bd and 40% by Rv. Among terrestrial, direct-developing Pristimantis frogs 40% were infected by Bd, 35% by Rv, and 20% co-infected. In Telmatobius frogs harvested for the live-trade 49% were co-infected, 92% were infected by Bd, and 53% by Rv. Median Bd and Rv loads were similar in both wild (Bd = 101.2 Ze, Rv = 102.3 viral copies) and harvested frogs (Bd = 103.1 Ze, Rv = 102.7 viral copies). While neither parasite abundance nor infection intensity were associated with co-infection patterns in adults, these data did not include the most susceptible larval and metamorphic life stages. These findings suggest Rv distribution is global and that co-infection among these parasites may be common. These results raise conservation concerns, but greater testing is necessary to determine if parasite interactions increase amphibian vulnerability to secondary infections across differing life stages, and constitute a previously undetected threat to declining populations. Greater surveillance of parasite interactions may increase our capacity to contain and mitigate the impacts of these and other wildlife diseases.
Project description:Xenopus laevis adults mount effective immune responses to ranavirus Frog Virus 3 (FV3) infections and clear the pathogen within 2-3 weeks. In contrast, most tadpoles cannot clear FV3 and succumb to infections within a month. While larval susceptibility has been attributed to ineffective adaptive immunity, the contribution of innate immune components has not been addressed. Accordingly, we performed a comprehensive gene expression analysis on FV3-infected tadpoles and adults. In comparison to adults, leukocytes and tissues of infected tadpoles exhibited modest (10-100 time lower than adult) and delayed (3 day later than adult) increase in expression of inflammation-associated (TNF-?, IL-1? and IFN-?) and antiviral (Mx1) genes. In contrast, these genes were readily and robustly upregulated in tadpoles upon bacterial stimulation. Furthermore, greater proportions of larval than adult PLs were infected by FV3. Our study suggests that tadpole susceptibility to FV3 infection is partially due to poor virus-elicited innate immune responses.
Project description:Although aquatic vertebrates and humans are increasingly exposed to water pollutants associated with unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOG), the long-term effects of these pollutants on immunity remains unclear. We have established the amphibian Xenopus laevis and the ranavirus Frog Virus 3 (FV3) as a reliable and sensitive model for evaluating the effects of waterborne pollutants. X. laevis tadpoles were exposed to a mixture of equimass amount of UOG chemicals with endocrine disrupting activity (0.1 and 1.0??g/L) for 3?weeks, and then long-term effects on immune function at steady state and following viral (FV3) infection was assessed after metamorphosis. Notably, developmental exposure to the mixture of UOG chemicals at the tadpole stage affected metamorphic development and fitness by significantly decreasing body mass after metamorphosis completion. Furthermore, developmental exposure to UOGs resulted in perturbation of immune homeostasis in adult frogs, as indicated by significantly decreased number of splenic innate leukocytes, B and T lymphocytes; and a weakened antiviral immune response leading to increased viral load during infection by the ranavirus FV3. These findings suggest that mixture of UOG-associated waterborne endocrine disruptors at low but environmentally-relevant levels have the potential to induce long-lasting alterations of immune function and antiviral immunity in aquatic vertebrates and ultimately human populations.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Ranaviruses (Iridoviridae) are posing an increasing threat to amphibian populations, with anuran tadpoles being particularly susceptible to these viral infections. Moreover, amphibians are the most basal phylogenetic class of vertebrates known to possess both type I and type III interferon (IFN)-mediated immunity. Moreover, little is known regarding the respective roles of the IFN mediators in amphibian antiviral defenses. Accordingly, we transcriptionally and functionally compared the amphibian Xenopus laevis type I (IFN) and III (IFN-?) IFNs in the context of infections by the ranavirus frog virus 3 (FV3). X. laevis IFN and IFN-? displayed distinct tissue expression profiles. In contrast to our previous findings that X. laevis tadpoles exhibit delayed and modest type I IFN responses to FV3 infections compared to the responses of adults, here we report that tadpoles mount timely and robust type III IFN gene responses. Recombinant forms of these cytokines (recombinant X. laevis IFN [rXlIFN] and rXlIFN-?) elicited antiviral gene expression in the kidney-derived A6 cell line as well as in tadpole leukocytes and tissues. However, rXlIFN-? was less effective than rXlIFN in preventing FV3 replication in A6 cells and tadpoles and inferior at promoting tadpole survival. Intriguingly, FV3 impaired A6 cell and tadpole kidney type III IFN receptor gene expression. Furthermore, in A6 cultures rXlIFN-? conferred equal or greater protection than rXlIFN against recombinant viruses deficient for the putative immune evasion genes, the viral caspase activation and recruitment domain (vCARD) or a truncated vIF-2? gene. Thus, in contrast to previous assumptions, tadpoles possess intact antiviral defenses reliant on type III IFNs, which are overcome by FV3 pathogens. IMPORTANCE:Anuran tadpoles, including those of Xenopus laevis, are particularly susceptible to infection by ranavirus such as FV3. We investigated the respective roles of X. laevis type I and type III interferons (IFN and IFN-?, respectively) during FV3 infections. Notably, tadpoles mounted timely and more robust IFN-? gene expression responses to FV3 than adults, contrasting with the poorer tadpole type I IFN responses. However, a recombinant X. laevis IFN-? (rXlIFN-?) conferred less protection to tadpoles and the A6 cell line than rXlIFN, which may be explained by the FV3 impairment of IFN-? receptor gene expression. The importance of IFN-? in tadpole anti-FV3 defenses is underlined by the critical involvement of two putative immune evasion genes in FV3 resistance to IFN- and IFN-?-mediated responses. These findings challenge the view that tadpoles have defective antiviral immunity and suggest, rather, that their antiviral responses are predominated by IFN-? responses, which are overcome by FV3.