Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV; ) can cause serious infections in humans which may result in encephalitis/meningoencephalitis. It has been previously reported that TBEV infects both, neurons and astrocytes, however, with a different outcome. So far, the principle of this cell type-specific response to TBEV is not fully understood.

In order to gain more insight into this phenomenon, we described new infection model utilizing human neural stem cells (hNSCs) and two strains of Western European TBEV subtype varying in the pathogenicity - mild Neudoerfl and severe Hypr. In detail, neurons and astrocytes were artificially differentiated from hNSCs and presence of CNS markers was checked. TBEV infection in both cell types was characterised afterwards. As expected, both cell types proved to be susceptible to TBEV infection. Viability was negatively affected only in infected neurons. In order to identify possible effectors responsible for different susceptibility of neurons and astrocytes, the analyses of changes in poly-(A) and small RNA transcriptome upon TBEV infection were performed. Preliminary results from poly-(A) RNA transcriptome revealed that in both cell types mainly interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) were up-regulated. However, the expression kinetics of particular ISGs varied. In addition, the vast spectrum of long non-coding RNAs was described to be differentially expressed upon infection. Surprisingly, U1 snRNA was found to be the most down-regulated RNA species among almost all infected samples.

Further analyses are in progress in order to get a complete description of virus-induced changes on the transcriptomic level.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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