Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version



Virus Research 323 (2023) 199007.


Open access.


Interleukin-33 (IL-33), which promotes M2 macrophage development, may influence the control of viruses, such as Theiler’s Murine Encephalomyelitis Virus (TMEV) that infect macrophages. Because Interferon Regulatory Factor-3 (IRF3) is also critical to control of TMEV infection in macrophages, information on the relationship between IL-33 and IRF3 is important. Thus, RAW264.7 Lucia murine macrophage lineage cells with an endogenous IRF3-ISRE promoter driving secreted luciferase and IRF3KO RAW Lucia, a subline deficient in IRF3, were challenged with TMEV. After the challenge, considerable TMEV RNA detected at 18 and 24 h in RAW cells was significantly elevated in IRF3KO RAW cells. TMEV induction of ISRE-IRF3 promoter activity, IFN-β and IL-33 gene expression, and IL-6 and IL-10 protein production, which was strong in RAW cells, was less in IRF3KO RAW cells. In contrast, expression of CD206 and ARG1, classical M2 macrophage markers, was significantly elevated in IRF3KO RAW cells. Moreover, RAW and IRF3KO RAW cells produced extracellular IL-33 prior to and after infection with TMEV and antibody blockade of the IL-33 receptor, ST2, reduced CD206 and ARG1 expression, but increased IL-6 gene expression. Pre-treating both RAW and IRF3KO RAW cells with IL-33 prior to challenge significantly increased TMEV infection, but also increased IL-33, IL-10, IL-6 mRNA expression, and NO production without increasing IFN-β. Notably, IL-33 induction of IL-33, IRF3-ISRE promoter activity, and IL-10 by TMEV or poly I:C/IFN-γ was significantly dependent upon IRF3. The results show that the expression of IL-33 and the repression of M2 macrophage phenotypic markers are dependent on IRF3 and that IL-33 decreases the ability of macrophages to control infection with macrophage-tropic viruses.