Wang C, Honce R, Salvatore M, Chow D, Randazzo D,. Influenza Defective Interfering Virus Promotes Multiciliated Cell Differentiation and Reduces the Inflammatory Response in Mice. J Virol. 2023 May 31:e0049323
Influenza defective interfering (DI) viruses have long been considered promising antiviral candidates because of their ability to interfere with replication-competent viruses and induce antiviral immunity. However, the mechanisms underlying DI-mediated antiviral immunity have not been extensively explored. Here, we demonstrated the interferon (IFN)-independent protection conferred by the influenza DI virus against homologous virus infection in mice deficient in type I and III IFN signaling. We identified unique host signatures responding to DI coinfection by integrating transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulatory data. DI-treated mice exhibited reduced viral transcription, less intense inflammatory and innate immune responses, and primed multiciliated cell differentiation in their lungs at an early stage of infection, even in the absence of type I or III IFNs. This increased multiciliogenesis could also be detected at the protein level via the immunofluorescence staining of lung tissue from DI-treated mice. Overall, our study provides mechanistic insight into the protection mediated by DIs, implying a unifying theme involving inflammation and multiciliogenesis in maintaining respiratory homeostasis and revealing their IFN-independent antiviral activity. IMPORTANCE During replication, the influenza virus generates genetically defective viruses. These are found in natural infections as part of the virus population within the infected host. Some versions of these defective viruses are thought to have protective effects through their interference with replication-competent viruses and induction of antiviral immunity. To better determine the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of these defective interfering (DI) viruses, we tested a DI that we previously identified in vitro with mice. Mice that were infected with a mix of wild-type influenza and DI viruses had less intense inflammatory and innate immune responses than did mice that were infected with the wild-type virus only, even when type I or III interferons, which are cytokines that play a prominent role in defending the respiratory epithelial barrier, were absent. More interestingly, the DI-infected mice had primed multiciliated cell differentiation in their lungs, indicating the potential promotion of epithelial repair by DIs.
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