Cloning, expression and antiviral activity of IFNγ from the Australian fruit bat,Pteropus alecto

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Bats are natural reservoir hosts to a variety of viruses, many of which cause morbidity and mortality in other mammals. Currently there is a paucity of information regarding the nature of the immune response to viral infections in bats, partly due to a lack of appropriate bat specific reagents. IFNγ plays a key role in controlling viral replication and coordinating a response for long term control of viral infection. Here we describe the cloning and expression of IFNγ from the Australian flying fox, Pteropus alecto and the generation of mouse monoclonal and chicken egg yolk antibodies specific to bat IFNγ. Our results demonstrate that P. alecto IFNγ is conserved with IFNγ from other species and is induced in bat splenocytes following stimulation with T cell mitogens. P. alecto IFNγ has antiviral activity on Semliki forest virus in cell lines from P. alecto and the microbat, Tadarida brasiliensis. Additionally recombinant bat IFNγ was able to mitigate Hendra virus infection in P. alecto cells. These results provide the first evidence for an antiviral role for bat IFNγ in vitro in addition to the application of important immunological reagents for further studies of bat antiviral immunity.

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