1887

Abstract

(BTV) and several other species are transmitted between mammalian hosts via bites from adults of certain species of midges. However, BTV can survive for 9–12 months (typically during the winter), in the absence of adult vectors, with no detectable cases of viraemia, disease or seroconversion in the host. The survival of the virus from one ‘vector season’ to the next is called ‘overwintering’ but the mechanism involved is not fully understood. It is demonstrated that BTV can persistently infect ovine γδ T-cells , a process that may also occur during infection and viraemia in mammalian hosts, thus providing a mechanism for virus persistence. Interaction of persistently BTV-infected γδ T-cells with antibody to the γδ T-cell-specific surface molecule WC-1 resulted in conversion to a lytic infection and increased virus release. Skin fibroblasts induce a similar conversion, indicating that they express a counter ligand for WC-1. Feeding of midges induces skin inflammation, which is accompanied by recruitment of large numbers of activated γδ T-cells. The interaction of persistently infected γδ T-cells with skin fibroblasts would result in increased virus production at ‘biting sites’, favouring transmission to the insect vector. This suggested mechanism might also involve up-regulation of the WC-1 ligand at inflamed sites. It has been shown previously that cleavage of virus surface proteins by protease enzymes (which may also be associated with inflammation) generates infectious subvirus particles that have enhanced infectivity (100 times) for the insect vector.

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2003-01-01
2020-03-29
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