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Journal Articles Frontiers in Immunology Year : 2021

Constitutive IFNα protein production in bats


Bats are the only mammals with self-powered flight and account for 20% of all extant mammalian diversity. In addition, they harbor many emerging and reemerging viruses, including multiple coronaviruses, several of which are highly pathogenic in other mammals, but cause no disease in bats. How this relationship between bats and viruses exists is not yet fully understood. Existing evidence supports a specific role for the innate immune system, in particular type I interferon (IFN) responses, a major component of antiviral immunity. Previous studies in bats have shown that components of the IFN pathway are constitutively activated at the transcriptional level. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the type I IFN response in bats is also constitutively activated at the protein level. For this we utilized highly sensitive Single Molecule (Simoa) digital ELISA assays, previously developed for humans that we adapted to bat samples. We prospectively sampled four non-native chiroptera species from French zoos. We identified a constitutive expression of IFNα protein in the circulation of healthy bats, and concentrations that are physiologically active in humans. Expression levels differed according to the species examined, but was not associated with age, sex, or health status suggesting constitutive IFNα protein expression independent of disease. These results confirm a unique IFN response in bat species that may explain their ability to coexist with multiple viruses in the absence of pathology. These results may help to manage potential zoonotic viral reservoirs and potentially identify new anti-viral strategies.
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Dates and versions

pasteur-03384285 , version 1 (18-10-2021)
pasteur-03384285 , version 2 (02-11-2021)


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Vincent Bondet, Maxime Le Baut, Sophie Le Poder, Alexis Lécu, Thierry Petit, et al.. Constitutive IFNα protein production in bats. Frontiers in Immunology, 2021, 12, pp.735866. ⟨10.3389/fimmu.2021.735866⟩. ⟨pasteur-03384285v2⟩
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