Publications & Reports

Contraction of the type I IFN locus and unusual constitutive expression of IFN-alpha in bats.

Zhou P, Tachedjian M, Wynne JW, Boyd V, Cui J, Smith I, Cowled C, Ng JH, Mok L, Michalski WP, Mendenhall IH, Tachedjian G, Wang LF, Baker ML
Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Health and Biosecurity Business Unit, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia; Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Duke-National University of Singapore Medi


Bats harbor many emerging and reemerging viruses, several of which are highly pathogenic in other mammals but cause no clinical signs of disease in bats. To determine the role of interferons (IFNs) in the ability of bats to coexist with viruses, we sequenced the type I IFN locus of the Australian black flying fox, Pteropus alecto, providing what is, to our knowledge, the first gene map of the IFN region of any bat species. Our results reveal a highly contracted type I IFN family consisting of only 10 IFNs, including three functional IFN-alpha loci. Furthermore, the three IFN-alpha genes are constitutively expressed in unstimulated bat tissues and cells and their expression is unaffected by viral infection. Constitutively expressed IFN-alpha results in the induction of a subset of IFN-stimulated genes associated with antiviral activity and resistance to DNA damage, providing evidence for a unique IFN system that may be linked to the ability of bats to coexist with viruses.

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  • Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • Published: 22/02/2016
  • Volume: 113
  • Issue: 10
  • Pagination: 2696-2701