Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas M. Chambers


Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) is one of the major viral pathogens causing respiratory disease, abortion, perinatal mortality and neurologic disease among horses resulting in significant economic losses to the equine industry. The virus can also remain latent in the horses and recrudesce at any time. Type-I interferons (IFNs) act as a first line of defense against many viral infections.

In this study we investigated the type-I IFN response against the neuropathogenic T953 strain of EHV-1 in equine endothelial cells (EECs). The results showed that after a transient induction of IFN-β mRNA as well as protein at an early time (3h) post infection (p.i.), T953 strain of EHV-1 suppressed further induction of IFN-β at later times (12h onwards). Studies were done to confirm that the suppression of type-I IFN induction at later time points was not due to the normal IFN-β induction kinetics, it was rather because of the active interference by the virus. Investigation of the mechanisms by which T953 interferes with IFN-β production revealed that the virus degraded the endogenous level of the transcription factor, interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) and also down-regulated the activation of IRF-3 followed by its accumulation in the nucleus. However, T953 infection caused degradation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) inhibitory protein IκBα and also induced p50 subunit to translocate into nucleus from cytoplasm suggesting activation of NF-κB signaling. This also indicated that inhibition in the type-I IFN production was probably not due to the inhibition of NF-κB.

The results of these studies also indicated that T953 virus was resistant to the biological effect of the recombinant equine IFN-α in vitro. Investigation of the reason of this resistance showed that T953 virus interfered with the cellular JAK-STAT signaling mechanism by which type-I IFN exerts its antiviral effect. Moreover, the studies revealed that downstream of the JAK-STAT signaling, T953 virus also inhibited the expression of cellular antiviral proteins including interferon stimulated gene 56 (ISG56) and viperin. Altogether, these data indicate that the T953 strain of EHV-1 interfered with the host cell innate immune responses by modulating type-I IFN mediated immune responses at multiple levels in vitro.