Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) infection is often associated with pronounced liver damage. Previously, our studies revealed altered host phospho-signaling responses (NFκB, MAPK and DNA damage responses) in RVFV infected epithelial cells that correlated with a cellular stress response. Here, we report that RVFV infection of liver cells leads to an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS). Our data suggests the presence of the viral protein NSs in the mitochondria of infected cells, hence contributing to early increase in ROS. Increased ROS levels correlated with activation of NFκB (p65) and p53 responses, which in conjunction with infection, was also reflected as macromolecular rearrangements observed using size fractionation of protein lysates. Additionally, we documented an increase in cytokine expression and pro-apoptotic gene expression with infection, which was reversed with antioxidant treatment. Collectively, we identified ROS and oxidative stress as critical contributors to apoptosis of liver cells during RVFV infection.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Liver cells; Reactive oxygen species; Rift Valley fever virus; p53; p65.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.