Several viruses induce intestinal epithelial cell death during enteric infection. However, it is unclear whether proapoptotic capacity promotes or inhibits replication in this tissue. We infected mice with two reovirus strains that infect the intestine but differ in the capacity to alter immunological tolerance to new food antigen. Infection with reovirus strain T1L, which induces an inflammatory immune response to fed antigen, is prolonged in the intestine, whereas T3D-RV, which does not induce this response, is rapidly cleared from the intestine. Compared with T1L, T3D-RV infection triggered apoptosis of intestinal epithelial cells and subsequent sloughing of dead cells into the intestinal lumen. We conclude that the infection advantage of T1L derives from its capacity to subvert host restriction by epithelial cell apoptosis, providing a possible mechanism by which T1L enhances inflammatory signals during antigen feeding. Using a panel of T1L × T3D-RV reassortant viruses, we identified the viral M1 and M2 gene segments as determinants of reovirus-induced apoptosis in the intestine. Expression of the T1L M1 and M2 genes in a T3D-RV background was sufficient to limit epithelial cell apoptosis and enhance viral infection to levels displayed by T1L. These findings define additional reovirus gene segments required for enteric infection of mice and illuminate the antiviral effect of intestinal epithelial cell apoptosis in limiting enteric viral infection. Viral strain-specific differences in the capacity to infect the intestine may be useful in identifying viruses capable of ameliorating tolerance to fed antigen in autoimmune conditions like celiac disease. Acute viral infections are thought to be cleared by the host with few lasting consequences. However, there may be much broader and long-lasting effects of viruses on immune homeostasis. Infection with reovirus, a common, nonpathogenic virus, triggers inflammation against innocuous food antigens, implicating this virus in the development of celiac disease, an autoimmune intestinal disorder triggered by exposure to dietary gluten. Using two reovirus strains that differ in the capacity to abrogate oral tolerance, we found that strain-specific differences in the capacity to replicate in the intestine inversely correlate with the capacity to induce apoptotic death of intestinal epithelial cells, providing a host-mediated process to restrict intestinal infection. This work contributes new knowledge about virus-host interactions in the intestine and establishes a foundation for future studies to define mechanisms by which viruses break oral tolerance in celiac disease.
Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.