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Antiviral activity of prion protein against Japanese encephalitis virus infectionin vitroandin vivo.

Virus Research 2023 October 18
Flaviviruses are a major cause of viral diseases worldwide, for which effective treatments have yet to be discovered. The prion protein (PrPc) is abundantly expressed in brain cells and has been shown to play a variety of roles, including neuroprotection, cell homeostasis, and regulation of cellular signaling. However, it is still unclear whether PrPc can protect against flaviviruses. In this study, we investigated the role of PrPc in regulating autophagy flux and its potential antiviral activity during Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infection. Our in vivo experiment showed that JEV was more lethal to the PrPc knocked out mice which was further supported by histological analysis, western blot and rtPCR results from infected mice brain samples. Role of PrPc against viral propagation in vitro was verified through cell survival study, protein expression and RNA replication analysis, and adenoviral vector assay by overexpressing PrPc. Further analysis indicated that after virus entry, PrPc inhibited autophagic flux that prevented JEV replication inside the host cell. Our results from in vivo and in vitro investigations demonstrate that prion protein effectively inhibited JEV propagation by regulating autophagy flux which is used by JEV to release its genetic material and replication after entering the host cell, suggesting that prion protein may be a promising therapeutic target for flavivirus infection.

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