The Adames strain of Punta Toro virus (PTV-A, Bunyaviridae, Phlebovirus) causes an acute lethal disease in hamsters and mice. The Balliet strain of the virus (PTV-B) is generally considered to be avirulent. The difference in hamster susceptibility is likely due to the ability of PTV-A to suppress interferon (IFN)-β similarly to that described for Rift Valley fever virus. Here we investigated strain differences in PTV pathogenesis and the IFN response in mice. Although PTV-B infection in mice did not induce systemic IFN-β release, primary macrophages produced dramatically higher levels when exposed to the virus in culture. The importance of IFN in resistance to PTV infection was borne out in studies employing STAT-1 knock-out mice. Also, a number of genes specific to IFN response pathways were upregulated in PTV-B-infected macrophages. Our findings provide new insights into the type I IFN response during PTV infection in the mouse model of phleboviral disease. © 2009 Elsevier Inc.
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