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Murine astrovirus tropism for goblet cells and enterocytes facilitates an IFN-λ response in vivo and in enteroid cultures


Although they globally cause viral gastroenteritis in children, astroviruses are understudied due to the lack of well-defined animal models. While murine astroviruses (muAstVs) chronically infect immunodeficient mice, a culture system and understanding of their pathogenesis is lacking. Here, we describe a platform to cultivate muAstV using air–liquid interface (ALI) cultures derived from mouse enteroids, which support apical infection and release. Chronic muAstV infection occurs predominantly in the small intestine and correlates with higher interferon-lambda (IFN-λ) expression. MuAstV stimulates IFN-λ production in ALI, recapitulating our in vivo findings. We demonstrate that goblet cells and enterocytes are targets for chronic muAstV infection in vivo, and that infection is enhanced by parasite co-infection or type 2 cytokine signaling. Depletion of goblet cells from ALI limits muAstV infection in vitro. During chronic infection, muAstV stimulates IFN-λ production in infected cells and induces ISGs throughout the intestinal epithelium in an IFN-λ-receptor-dependent manner. Collectively, our study provides insights into the cellular tropism and innate immune responses to muAstV and establishes an enteroid-based culture system to propagate muAstV in vitro.

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Fig. 1: Murine AstV is abundant in the small intestine of immunodeficient and immunocompetent mice.
Fig. 2: Three-dimensional intestinal enteroids can support HAstV1, but not muAstV, replication.
Fig. 3: MuAstV infects air–liquid interface cultures to induce type III interferon and ISG expression.
Fig. 4: MuAstV infects small intestinal goblet cells and enterocytes.
Fig. 5: MuAstV infection is dependent on goblet cell abundance.
Fig. 6: MuAstV stimulates IFN-λ expression in enterocytes and goblet cells of the small intestine to drive widespread ISG expression.

Data availability

The data from this study are tabulated in the main paper and Supplementary Materials. All reagents are available from M.T.B. under a material transfer agreement with Washington University.


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We acknowledge all members of the Baldridge laboratory for helpful discussions. We also thank H. Deng for animal care and breeding, and J. White and the Washington University Gnotobiotic Facility for assistance with germ-free mice. We are grateful to Stacey Schultz-Cherry for providing human astrovirus. H.I. was supported by the Children’s Discovery Institute of Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Postdoctoral Research grant (MI-F-2018-712). S.L. was supported by NIH grant R00 AI141683 and the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2016R1A6A3A03012352). M.S.D. was supported by NIH grant R01 DK122790. M.T.B. was supported by NIH grants R01 AI127552, R01 AI139314, the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation, and the Pew Biomedical Scholars Program of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Author information




H.I., E.H., M.B., Y.L., E.A.K., G.K., H.M., P.D. performed the experiments. H.I., E.H., J.G., M.B., Y.L., H.M., S.L., M.G., M.S.D., and M.T.B. analyzed the results. K.G.M., M.S.D., and R.D.N. provided reagents and helped to design experiments. H.I., M.G., and M.T.B. designed the project. H.I., E.H., J.G., and M.T.B. wrote the paper. All authors read and edited the paper.

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Correspondence to Megan T. Baldridge.

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M.S.D. is a consultant for Inbios, Vir Biotechnology, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Carnival Corporation, and on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Moderna and Immunome. The Diamond laboratory has received unrelated funding support in sponsored research agreements from Moderna, Vir Biotechnology, and Emergent BioSolutions.

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Ingle, H., Hassan, E., Gawron, J. et al. Murine astrovirus tropism for goblet cells and enterocytes facilitates an IFN-λ response in vivo and in enteroid cultures. Mucosal Immunol 14, 751–761 (2021).

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