MyD88 is required for protection from lethal infection with a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV

PLoS Pathog. 2008 Dec;4(12):e1000240. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000240. Epub 2008 Dec 12.


A novel human coronavirus, SARS-CoV, emerged suddenly in 2003, causing approximately 8000 human cases and more than 700 deaths worldwide. Since most animal models fail to faithfully recapitulate the clinical course of SARS-CoV in humans, the virus and host factors that mediate disease pathogenesis remain unclear. Recently, our laboratory and others developed a recombinant mouse-adapted SARS-CoV (rMA15) that was lethal in BALB/c mice. In contrast, intranasal infection of young 10-week-old C57BL/6 mice with rMA15 results in a nonlethal infection characterized by high titer replication within the lungs, lung inflammation, destruction of lung tissue, and loss of body weight, thus providing a useful model to identify host mediators of protection. Here, we report that mice deficient in MyD88 (MyD88(-/-)), an adapter protein that mediates Toll-like receptor (TLR), IL-1R, and IL-18R signaling, are far more susceptible to rMA15 infection. The genetic absence of MyD88 resulted in enhanced pulmonary pathology and greater than 90% mortality by day 6 post-infection. MyD88(-/-) mice had significantly higher viral loads in lung tissue throughout the course of infection. Despite increased viral loads, the expression of multiple proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines within lung tissue and recruitment of inflammatory monocytes/macrophages to the lung was severely impaired in MyD88(-/-) mice compared to wild-type mice. Furthermore, mice deficient in chemokine receptors that contribute to monocyte recruitment to the lung were more susceptible to rMA15-induced disease and exhibited severe lung pathology similar to that seen in MyD88(-/-)mice. These data suggest that MyD88-mediated innate immune signaling and inflammatory cell recruitment to the lung are required for protection from lethal rMA15 infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / virology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / genetics
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, CCR / immunology
  • Receptors, CCR / metabolism
  • SARS Virus / genetics
  • SARS Virus / pathogenicity*
  • SARS Virus / physiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / immunology*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / mortality
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Cultivation
  • Virus Replication


  • Cytokines
  • Myd88 protein, mouse
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • Receptors, CCR