Recombinant IFN-γ from the bank vole Myodes glareolus: a novel tool for research on rodent reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens
Rodent species like Myodes glareolus and Microtus spp. are natural reservoirs for many zoonotic pathogens causing human diseases and are gaining increasing interest in the field of eco-immunology as candidate animal models. Despite their importance the lack of immunological reagents has hampered research in these animal species. Here we report the recombinant production and functional characterization of IFN-γ, a central mediator of host’s innate and adaptive immune responses, from the bank vole M. glareolus. Soluble dimeric recMgIFN-γ was purified in high yield from Escherichia coli. Its activity on M. glareolus and Microtus arvalis kidney cell lines was assessed by immunofluorescent detection of nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of the transcription factor STAT1. RecMgIFN-γ also induced expression of an IFN-γ-regulated innate immunity gene. Inhibition of vesicular stomatitis virus replication in vole cells upon recMgIFN-γ treatment provided further evidence of its biological activity. Finally, we established a recMgIFN-γ-responsive bank vole reporter cell line that allows the sensitive titration of the cytokine activity via a bioluminescence reporter assay. Taken together, we report valuable tools for future investigations on the immune response against zoonotic pathogens in their natural animal hosts, which might foster the development of novel animal models.