RNA-Seq Analysis of Influenza A Virus-Induced Transcriptional Changes in Mice Lung and Its Possible Implications for the Virus Pathogenicity in Mice

Viruses. 2021 Oct 8;13(10):2031. doi: 10.3390/v13102031.

Abstract

The influenza A virus (IAV) is an important cause of respiratory disease worldwide. It is well known that alveolar epithelial cells are the target cells for the IAV, but there is relatively limited knowledge regarding the role of macrophages during IAV infection. Here, we aimed to analyze transcriptome differences in mouse lungs and macrophage (RAW264.7) cell lines infected with either A/California/04/2009 H1N1 (CA09) or A/chicken/SD/56/2015 H9N2 (SD56) using deep sequencing. The uniquely differentially expressed genes (UDEGs) were analyzed with the Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) databases; the results showed that the lungs infected with the two different viruses had different enrichments of pathways and terms. Interestingly, CA09 virus infection in mice was mostly involved with genes related to the extracellular matrix (ECM), while the most significant differences after SD56 infection in mice were in immune-related genes. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) of RAW264.7 cells revealed that regulation of the cell cycle was of great significance after CA09 infection, whereas the regulation of the immune response was most enriched after SD56 infection, which was consistent with analysis results in the lung. Similar results were obtained from weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), where cell cycle regulation was extensively activated in RAW264.7 macrophages infected with the CA09 virus. Disorder of the cell cycle is likely to affect their normal immune regulation, which may be an important factor leading to their different prognoses. These results provide insight into the mechanism of the CA09 virus that caused a pandemic and explain the different reactivities of monocytes/macrophages infected by H9N2 and H1N1 IAV subtypes.

Keywords: cell cycle regulation; immune regulation; influenza A virus; macrophages; prognosis.