Scientific reports. 2018-07-27; 8.1: 11318.

Cotton rat lung transcriptome reveals host immune response to Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection

Rajagopala SV, Singh H, Patel MC, Wang W, Tan Y, Shilts MH, Hartert TV, Boukhvalova MS, Blanco JCG, Das SR

PMID: 30054492


Acute respiratory infection (ARI) with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of both hospitalizations and mortality in young infants worldwide. Repeat infections with RSV are common throughout life in both pediatric and elderly populations. Thus far, cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) are found to be the best animal model to study RSV infection. However, the lack of a cotton rat reference genome limits genome-wide host gene expression studies. We constructed the first lung tissue de novo transcriptome for the cotton rat. Cotton rat lung tissue transcripts were assigned to 12,211 unique UniProt genes, which were then utilized to profile the host immune response after RSV infection. Differential expression analysis showed up-regulation of host genes involved in cellular functions including defense responses to viral infection and immune system processes. A number of transcripts were downregulated during the later stage of infection. A set of transcripts unique to RSV-infected cotton rats was identified. To validate RNA-Seq data of three such transcripts (TR453762, TR529629, and TR5333), their expression was confirmed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.