Sensitivity of African swine fever virus to type I interferon is linked to genes within multigene families 360 and 505

African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a lethal haemorrhagic disease of pigs. There are conflicting reports on the role of interferon in ASFV infection. We therefore analysed the interaction of ASFV with porcine interferon, in vivo and in vitro. Virulent ASFV induced biologically active IFN in the circulation of pigs from day 3-post infection, whereas low virulent OUR T88/3, which lacks genes from multigene family (MGF) 360 and MGF505, did not. Infection of porcine leucocytes enriched for dendritic cells, with ASFV, in vitro, induced high levels of interferon, suggesting a potential source of interferon in animals undergoing acute ASF. Replication of OUR T88/3, but not virulent viruses, was reduced in interferon pretreated macrophages and a recombinant virus lacking similar genes to those absent in OUR T88/3 was also inhibited. These findings suggest that as well as inhibiting the induction of interferon, MGF360 and MGF505 genes also enable ASFV to overcome the antiviral state.

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