La Crosse virus causes a highly cytopathic infection in cultured cells and in the murine central nervous system (CNS), with widespread neuronal destruction. In some vital infections of the CNS, apoptosis, or programmed cell death, has been proposed as a mechanism for cytopathology (Y. Shen and T. E. Shenk, Curr. Opin. Genet. Dev. 5:105-111, 1995). To determine whether apoptosis plays a role in La Crosse virus-induced cell death, we performed experiments with newborn mice and two neural tissue culture models. Newborn mice infected with La Crosse virus showed evidence of apoptosis with the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nicked-end labeling (TUNEL) assay and, concomitantly, histopathological suggestion of neuronal dropout. Infection of tissue culture cells also resulted in DNA fragmentation, TUNEL reactivity, and morphological changes in the nuclei characteristic of apoptotic cells. As in one other system (S. Ubol, P. C. Tucker, D. E. Griffin, and J. M. Hardwick, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:5202-5206, 1994), expression of the human proto-oncogene bcl-2 was able to protect one neuronal cell line, N18-RE-105, from undergoing apoptosis after La Crosse virus infection and prolonged the survival of infected cells. Nevertheless, expression of bcl-2 did not prevent eventual cytopathicity. However, a human neuronal cell line, NT2N, was resistant to both apoptosis and other types of cytopathicity after infection with La Crosse virus, reaffirming the complexity of cell death. Our results show that apoptosis is an important consequence of La Crosse virus infection in vivo and in vitro.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science