Ebola virus (EBOV) infections are characterized by a pronounced lymphopenia that is highly correlative with fatalities. However, the mechanisms leading to T-cell depletion remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that both viral mRNAs and antigens are detectable in CD4+ T cells despite the absence of productive infection. A protein phosphatase 1 inhibitor, 1E7-03, and siRNA-mediated suppression of viral antigens were used to demonstrate de novo synthesis of viral RNAs and antigens in CD4+ T cells, respectively. Cell-to-cell fusion of permissive Huh7 cells with non-permissive Jurkat T cells impaired productive EBOV infection suggesting the presence of a cellular restriction factor. We determined that viral transcription is partially impaired in the fusion T cells. Lastly, we demonstrate that exposure of T cells to EBOV resulted in autophagy through activation of ER-stress related pathways. These data indicate that exposure of T cells to EBOV results in an abortive infection, which likely contributes to the lymphopenia observed during EBOV infections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology