rDEN2Δ30 is a recombinant serotype 2 virus based on the American genotype 1974 Tonga DENV2 virus, which has been partially attenuated by deletion of 30 nucleotides in the 3′ untranslated region of the RNA genome (Δ30). rDEN2Δ30 infection is known to induce modest viremia in all flavivirus-naive subjects and a mild, transient non-pruritic rash in 80% of recipients.
rDEN2Δ30 infection could hence be a suitable model to evaluate molecular signatures responsible for asymptomatic or mild DENV-2 infection.
In this study by Hanley JP et al., RNA-seq was performed on whole blood collected from rDEN2Δ30-infected subjects at 0, 8, and 28 days post infection. rDEN2Δ30-induced reproducible but modest viremia and a mild rash as the only clinically significant finding in DENV-naive subjects.
Principal component analysis reveal minimal overlap between baseline (day 0) and peak viremia (day 8). The day 28 data (post viremia) partially overlapped with the baseline (day 0) and acute (day 8) timepoints. Pathways enriched in the type I and type II interferon and antiviral responses were upregulated at day 8, whereas pathways controlling translational initiation were downregulated. NF-κB, IL-17 signaling pathways, apoptosis, toll-like receptor signaling, response to viruses, ribosomes, and defense responses were also differentially regulated at day 28.
Myeloid cells including monocytes and activated dendritic cells were significantly increased during acute infection and returned to baseline. In contrast, regulatory T cells (Tregs) were significantly decreased during acute stage.
Gene ontology pathway analysis revealed that the viremia-tracking set of genes was enriched for both response to and regulation of type I and II interferon pathways, including JAK/STAT signaling. Genes encoding for proteins that directly inhibit viral genome replication and involved in protein ubiquitination and catabolism, especially ISG15 pathway, tracked with viremia. Day 28 revealed more varied pathways, including protein ubiquitination, cell migration, cytoskeletal reorganization, and angiogenesis.
Baseline transcript signatures can potentially predict whether the subjects would develop rash after rDEN2Δ30 infection. Higher baseline expression of myeloid nuclear differentiation antigen (MNDA), and cell surface associated cellular processes such as tetraspanin CD37, integral membrane 2B (ITM2B), and genes involved in autophagy (VMP1) was associated with protection from rash. These genes are mostly related to myeloid responses, membrane regulation, autophagy, K63 ubiquitination, and cell morphogenesis.
Transcriptomic signatures modulated by rDEN2Δ30 infection and severe dengue are distinct. Only one gene family, the guanine binding protein (GBP1/2) genes was differentially regulated in both severe dengue and during mild rDEN2Δ30 infection.
Data deposited im Gene Expression Omnibus under accession number GSE152255