Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 36, Number 2, March-April 2005
Page(s) 213 - 227
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2005) 213-227
Vet. Res. 36 (2005) 213-227
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2004059

The bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) NS3 protein, when expressed alone in mammalian cells, induces apoptosis which correlates with caspase-8 and caspase-9 activation

Marie-Claude St-Louisa, Bernard Massieb, c, d and Denis Archambaulta

a  Department of Biological Sciences, University of Québec at Montréal, PO Box 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8, Canada
b  Department of Molecular Biology, Biotechnology Research Institute, Montréal, Québec, Canada
c  INRS-IAF, University of Québec, Laval, Québec, Canada
d  Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Montréal University, Québec, Canada

(Received 22 June 2004; accepted 14 October 2004)

Abstract - The bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) strains exist as two biotypes, cytopathic (cp) and noncytopathic (ncp), according to their effects on tissue culture cells. It has been previously reported that cell death associated to cp BVDV in vitro is mediated by apoptosis. Here, experiments were conducted to determine the involvement of the NS3 protein in the induction of apoptosis. The NS3- and NS3 $\Delta$50 (deleted from the NH2-terminal 50 amino acids)-cDNA encoding sequences of BVDV NADL cp reference strain were cloned into adenoviral vectors (AdV) from which the BVDV gene of interest could be expressed from a tetracycline-responsive promoter. A549tTA cells infected in vitro with NS3 or NS3 $\Delta$50-expressing AdV showed cytopathic changes characterized by cell rounding and detachment, and nucleus chromatin condensation. DNA fragmentation assays, cytochrome c release, and activation of cellular caspases performed on these infected cells clearly correlated with the observed cytopathic changes with apoptosis. The BVDV NS3 $\Delta$50-induced apoptotic process was inhibited by caspase-8- and -9-specific peptide inhibitors (Z-IETD-FMK and Z-LEHD-FMK). Furthermore, apoptosis was inhibited in cells expressing the R1 subunit of herpes simplex virus type 2 ribonucleotide reductase (HSV2-R1) or hsp70, two proteins which are known to inhibit apoptosis associated with caspase-8 activation and cytochrome c release-dependent caspase-9 activation, respectively. Given that HSV2-R1, a specific inhibitor of the caspase-8 activation pathway, efficiently suppressed apoptosis and also prevented caspase-9 activation, the overall results indicate that the BVDV NS3/NS3 $\Delta$50 induces apoptosis initiated by caspase-8 activation and subsequent cytochrome c release-dependent caspase-9 activation.

Key words: bovine viral diarrhea virus / NS3 protein / apoptosis / caspases

Corresponding author: Denis Archambault

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2005