Ebola virus (EBOV) causes a severe hemorrhagic fever with a deficient immune response, lymphopenia, and lymphocyte apoptosis. Dendritic cells (DC), which trigger the adaptive response, do not mature despite EBOV infection. We recently demonstrated that DC maturation is unblocked by disabling the innate response antagonizing domains (IRADs) in EBOV VP35 and VP24 by the mutations R312A and K142A, respectively. Here we analyzed the effects of VP35 and VP24 with the IRADs disabled on global gene expression in human DC. Human monocyte-derived DC were infected by wild-type (wt) EBOV or EBOVs carrying the mutation in VP35 (EBOV/VP35m), VP24 (EBOV/VP24m), or both (EBOV/VP35m/VP24m). Global gene expression at 8 and 24 h was analyzed by deep sequencing, and the expression of interferon (IFN) subtypes up to 5 days postinfection was analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR). wt EBOV induced a weak global gene expression response, including markers of DC maturation, cytokines, chemokines, chemokine receptors, and multiple IFNs. The VP35 mutation unblocked the expression, resulting in a dramatic increase in expression of these transcripts at 8 and 24 h. Surprisingly, DC infected with EBOV/ VP24m expressed lower levels of many of these transcripts at 8 h after infection, compared to wt EBOV. In contrast, at 24 h, expression of the transcripts increased in DC infected with any of the three mutants, compared to wt EBOV. Moreover, sets of genes affected by the two mutations only partially overlapped. Pathway analysis demonstrated that the VP35 mutation unblocked pathways involved in antigen processing and presentation and IFN signaling. These data suggest that EBOV IRADs have profound effects on the host adaptive immune response through massive transcriptional downregulation of DC.
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