Increasing evidence highlights the importance of the antiviral activities of the type III interferons (IFNλs; IL-28A, IL-28B, IL29, and IFNλ4) in the intestine. However, many viruses have developed strategies to counteract these defense mechanisms by preventing the production of IFNs. Here we use infection models, a clinical virus isolate, and several molecular biology techniques to demonstrate that both type I and III IFNs induce an antiviral state and attenuate Coxsackievirus group B (CVB) replication in human intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). While treatment of IECs with a viral mimic (poly (I:C)) induced a robust expression of both type I and III IFNs, no such up-regulation was observed after CVB infection. The blunted IFN response was paralleled by a reduction in the abundance of proteins involved in the induction of interferon gene transcription, including TIR-domain-containing adapter-inducing interferon-β (TRIF), mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS), and the global protein translation initiator eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4G (eIF4G). Taken together, this study highlights a potent anti-Coxsackieviral effect of both type I and III IFNs in cells located at the primary site of infection. Furthermore, we show for the first time that the production of type I and III IFNs in IECs is blocked by CVBs. These findings suggest that CVBs evade the host immune response in order to successfully infect the intestine.
Keywords: Coxsackievirus (CVB); IFIH1; enterovirus; immune evasion; innate immunity; interferon; intestinal epithelial cells; intestine; poly I:C; type 1 diabetes.