Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) replicates in macrophages and causes persistent infection. Despite its role in disastrous economic losses in swine industries, the molecular mechanisms underlying its pathogenesis are poorly understood. The virus evades the neutralizing immune response, subverting the immune system to ensure its own survival and persistence. Our genome-wide analysis of porcine alveolar macrophage transcriptional responses to CSFV Shimen infection using the Solexa/Illumina digital gene expression system revealed that p53 pathway components and cell cycle molecules were differentially regulated during infection compared to controls. Further, we investigated the molecular changes in macrophages infected with CSFV Shimen, focusing on the genes involved in the p53 pathway. CSFV Shimen infection led to phosphorylation and accumulation of p53 in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, CSFV Shimen infection upregulated cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A (p21) mRNA and protein. In addition, CSFV Shimen infection induced cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase, as well as downregulation of cyclin E1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2). The expression of genes in the p53 pathway did not change significantly after p53 knockdown by pifithrin-α during CSFV Shimen infection. Our data suggest that CSFV Shimen infection increases expression of host p53 and p21, and inhibits expression of cyclin E1 and CDK2, leading to cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase. CSFV may utilize this strategy to subvert the innate immune response and proliferate in host cells.
Keywords: CSFV Shimen; Pathology Section; cell cycle dysregulation; macrophages; p21; p53 pathway.