Contribution of a single host genetic locus to mouse adenovirus type 1 infection and encephalitis.

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ABSTRACT Susceptibility to mouse adenovirus type 1 (MAV-1) is mouse strain dependent; susceptible mice die from hemorrhagic encephalomyelitis. The MAV-1 susceptibility quantitative trait locus Msq1 accounts for ~40% of the phenotypic (brain viral load) variance that occurs between resistant BALB/c and susceptible SJL mice after MAV-1 infection. Using an interval-specific congenic mouse strain (C.SJL-Msq1(SJL)), in which the SJL-derived allele Msq1(SJL) is present in a BALB/c background, we demonstrate that Msq1(SJL) controls the development of high brain viral titers in response to MAV-1 infection, yet does not account for the total extent of brain pathology or mortality in SJL mice. C.SJL-Msq1(SJL) mice had disruption of the blood-brain barrier and increased brain water content after MAV-1 infection, but these effects occurred later and were not as severe, respectively, as those noted in infected SJL mice. As expected, BALB/c mice showed minimal pathology in these assays. Infection of SJL- and C.SJL-Msq1(SJL)-derived primary mouse brain endothelial cells resulted in loss of barrier properties, whereas BALB/c-derived cells retained their barrier properties despite being equally capable of supporting MAV-1 infection. Finally, we provide evidence that organ pathology and inflammatory cell recruitment to the brain following MAV-1 infection were both influenced by Msq1. These results validate Msq1 as an important host factor in MAV-1 infection and refine the major role of the locus in development of MAV-1 encephalitis. They further suggest that additional host factors or gene interactions are involved in the mechanism of pathogenesis in MAV-1-infected SJL mice. IMPORTANCE A successful viral infection requires both host and viral factors; identification of host components involved in viral replication and pathogenesis is important for development of therapeutic interventions. A genetic locus (Msq1) controlling mouse adenovirus type 1 (MAV-1) brain infection was previously identified. Genes in Msq1 belong to the same family of genes associated with susceptibility to other encephalitic viruses, HIV-1 and West Nile virus. We constructed an interval-specific congenic mouse strain to examine the contribution of Msq1 to MAV-1 susceptibility and brain morbidity. We compared infected resistant, susceptible, and congenic mice regarding known MAV-1 disease manifestations in the brain (survival, viral loads, blood-brain barrier disruption, edema, mouse brain endothelial cell barrier properties, pathology, and inflammatory cell recruitment) to determine the extent to which Msq1 influences MAV-1 infection outcome. Our results showed that Msq1 is a critical host genetic factor that controls many aspects of MAV-1 infection.