Modulation of airway epithelial antiviral immunity by fungal exposure

Lingxiang Zhu, Boram Lee, Fangkun Zhao, Xu Zhou, Vanessa Chin, Serena C. Ling, Yin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Multiple pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, have been frequently found in asthmatic airways and are associated with the pathogenesis and exacerbation of asthma. Among these pathogens, Alternaria alternata (Alt), a universally present fungus, and human rhinovirus have been extensively studied. However, their interactions have not been investigated. In the present study, we tested the effect of Alt exposure on virus-induced airway epithelial immunity using live virus and a synthetic viral mimicker, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Alt treatment was found to significantly enhance the production of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-6 and IL-8) induced by virus infection or dsRNA treatment. In contrast to this synergistic effect, Alt significantly repressed type I and type III IFN production, and this impairment led to elevated viral replication. Mechanistic studies suggested the positive role of NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in the synergism and the attenuation of the TBK1-IRF3 pathway in the inhibition of IFN production. These opposite effects are caused by separate fungal components. Protease-dependent and -independent mechanisms appear to be involved. Thus, Alt exposure alters the airway epithelial immunity to viral infection by shifting toward more inflammatory but less antiviral responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1136-1143
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Alternaria
  • Antiviral
  • Epithelium
  • Rhinovirus
  • Toll-like receptor 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Modulation of airway epithelial antiviral immunity by fungal exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this