The characterisation of chIFITMs in avian coronavirus infection in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro

The coronaviruses are a large family of enveloped RNA viruses that commonly cause gastrointestinal or respiratory illnesses in the infected host. Avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is a highly contagious respiratory pathogen of chickens that can affect the kidneys and reproductive systems resulting in bird mortality and decreased reproductivity. The interferon-inducible transmembrane (IFITM) proteins are activated in response to viral infections and represent a class of cellular restriction factors that restrict the replication of many viral pathogens. Here, we characterize the relative mRNA expression of the chicken IFITM genes in response to IBV infection, in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro using the pathogenic M41-CK strain, the nephropathogenic QX strain and the nonpathogenic Beaudette strain. In vivo we demonstrate a significant upregulation of chIFITM1, 2, 3 and 5 in M41-CK- and QX-infected trachea two days post-infection. In vitro infection with Beaudette, M41-CK and QX results in a significant upregulation of chIFITM1, 2 and 3 at 24 h post-infection. We confirmed a differential innate response following infection with distinct IBV strains and believe that our data provide new insights into the possible role of chIFITMs in early IBV infection.

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