Intrinsic apoptosis and cytokine induction regulated in human tonsillar epithelial cells infected with enterovirus A71

Menghuai Sun, Kunlong Yan, Chunyang Wang, Jiao Xing, Zhaojun Duan, Yu Jin, Carol J Cardona, Zheng Xing
PloS One 2021, 16 (1): e0245529
Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) has emerged as a clinically important neurotropic virus following poliovirus eradication. Recent studies have shown that human tonsillar epithelial cell lines (UT-SCC-60A and UT-SCC-60B) were susceptible to EV-A71, suggesting that human tonsillar crypt epithelium could be important in EV-A71 pathogenesis. However, the mechanism about how EV-A71 infects the upper oro-digestive tract remains largely unclear. In this study, we demonstrated that the human tonsillar epithelial cells infected with EV-A71 underwent apoptotic, in which cytochrome c was released from the mitochondria to the cytosol and caspase-9 was activated, while caspase-2 and -8 were not cleaved or activated during the infection. A selective inhibitor of caspase-9, Z-LEHD-FMK, inhibited the cleavage of the executioner caspase-3 and -7, indicating that only mitochondria-mediated intrinsic apoptotic pathway was activated in EV-A71-infected tonsillar epithelial cells. No evidence of pyroptosis or necroptosis was involved in the cell death. EV-A71 infection induced interferon, pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, including IFN-β, IL-6, CCL5, and TNF-α in tonsillar epithelial cells, which may play a critical role in EV-A71-caused herpangina. Our data indicated that the induction of the cytokines was partially regulated by the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) signaling pathway. The findings unveiled the host response to EV-A71 and its regulation mechanism, and will further our understanding the significance about the tonsillar crypt epithelium as the initial and primary portal in viral pathogenesis for EV-A71 infection.

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