Human MxA protein protects mice lacking a functional alpha/beta interferon system against La Crosse virus and other lethal viral infections

Hans Peter Hefti, Michael Frese, Heinrich Landis, Claudio Di Paolo, Adriano Aguzzi, Otto Haller, Jovan Pavlovic

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116 Citations (Scopus)


The human MxA protein is part of the antiviral state induced by alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β). MxA inhibits the multiplication of several RNA viruses in cell culture. However, its antiviral potential in vivo has not yet been fully explored. We have generated MxA-transgenic mice that lack a functional IFN system by crossing MxA-transgenic mice constitutively expressing MxA with genetically targeted (knockout) mice lacking the β subunit of the IFN-α/β receptor (IFNAR-1(-/-) mice). These mice are an ideal animal model to investigate the unique antiviral activity of human MxA in vivo, because they are unable to express other IFN-induced proteins. Here, we show that MxA confers resistance to Thogoto virus, La Crosse virus, and Semliki Forest virus. No Thogoto virus progeny was detectable in MxA- transgenic mice, indicating an efficient block of virus replication at the primary site of infection. In the case of La Crosse virus, MxA restricted invasion of the central nervous system. In contrast, Semliki Forest virus multiplication in the brain was detectable in both MxA-expressing and nonexpressing IFNAR-1(-/-) mice. However, viral titers were clearly reduced in MxA-transgenic mice. Our results demonstrate that MxA does not need the help of other IFN-induced proteins for activity but is a powerful antiviral agent on its own. Moreover, the results suggest that MxA may protect humans from potential fatal infections by La Crosse virus and other viral pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6984-6991
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


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