Rotavirus susceptibility of antibiotic-treated mice ascribed to diminished expression of interleukin-22

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Daniel Schnepf, Pedro Hernandez, Tanel Mahlakõiv, Stefania Crotta, Meagan E. Sullender, Stefan T. Peterson, Annette Ohnemus, Camille Michiels, Ian Gentle, Laure Dumoutier, Celso A. Reis, Andreas Diefenbach, Andreas Wack, Megan T. Baldridge, Peter Staeheli

The commensal microbiota regulates susceptibility to enteric pathogens by fine-tuning mucosal innate immune responses, but how susceptibility to enteric viruses is shaped by the microbiota remains incompletely understood. Past reports have indicated that commensal bacteria may either promote or repress rotavirus replication in the small intestine of mice. We now report that rotavirus replicated more efficiently in the intestines of germ-free and antibiotic-treated mice compared to animals with an unmodified microbiota. Antibiotic treatment also facilitated rotavirus replication in type I and type III interferon (IFN) receptor-deficient mice, revealing IFN-independent proviral effects. Expression of interleukin-22 (IL-22) was strongly diminished in the intestine of antibiotic-treated mice. Treatment with exogenous IL-22 blocked rotavirus replication in microbiota-depleted wild-type and Stat1-/- mice, demonstrating that the antiviral effect of IL-22 in animals with altered microbiome is not dependent on IFN signaling. In antibiotic-treated animals, IL-22-induced a specific set of genes including Fut2, encoding fucosyl-transferase 2 that participates in the biosynthesis of fucosylated glycans which can mediate rotavirus binding. Interestingly, IL-22 also blocked rotavirus replication in antibiotic-treated Fut2-/- mice. Furthermore, IL-22 inhibited rotavirus replication in antibiotic-treated mice lacking key molecules of the necroptosis or pyroptosis pathways of programmed cell death. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IL-22 determines rotavirus susceptibility of antibiotic-treated mice, yet the IL-22-induced effector molecules conferring rotavirus resistance remain elusive.