Norovirus represents the main cause of acute nonbacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. In immunocompromised patients, it bears high risk of causing chronic infection with significant morbidity and mortality. The lack of specific treatment prompts the development of anti-norovirus agents. In this study, we have investigated the role of interferon (IFN) response and evaluated antiviral activities of different IFNs against human norovirus (HuNoV) replication using a HuNoV replicon model. We found that HuNoV RNA replication was sensitive to all types of IFNs, including IFNα (type I), IFNγ (type II), IFNλ1 and 3 (type III). IFNs canonically induce interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) to exert their antiviral activities. By profiling a subset of important human ISGs using an overexpression approach, we have identified RTP4 and HPSE as moderate anti-norovirus ISGs, whereas IRF-1, RIG-I (also known as DDX58) and MDA5 (also known as IFIH1) were identified as potent anti-norovirus effectors. Interestingly, type I and III IFNs coordinately induced IRF-1, RIG-I and MDA5; whereas type II IFN predominantly induced IRF-1 to exhibit their anti-norovirus activities. Combination of different IFNs revealed that IFNγ worked cooperatively with type I or type III IFNs to induce ISGs and subsequently inhibit HuNoV replication. Of note, replication of HuNoV did not interfere with antiviral IFN response. In summary, we showed the potent anti-norovirus activities of different types of IFNs and identified the key anti-norovirus effectors. These findings are important for understanding norovirus-host interactions and developing antiviral therapies.

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Keywords Interferon, IRF-1, MDA5, Norovirus, RIG-I
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Journal Antiviral Research
Dang, W, Xu, L, Yin, Y, Chen, S. (Sunrui), Wang, W, Hakim, M.S. (Mohamad S.), … Pan, Q. (2018). IRF-1, RIG-I and MDA5 display potent antiviral activities against norovirus coordinately induced by different types of interferons. Antiviral Research, 155, 48–59. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2018.05.004