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A spatial and cellular distribution of neurotropic virus infection in the mouse brain revealed by fMOST and single cell RNA-seq

By Yachun Zhang, Xudong Xing, Ben Long, Yandi Cao, Simeng Hu, Xiangning Li, Yalan Yu, Dayong Tian, Zhaochen Luo, Baokun Sui, Wei Liu, Lei Lv, Qiong Wu, Jinxia Dai, Ming Zhou, Heyou Han, Zhen F Fu, Hui Gong, Fan Bai, Ling Zhao

Posted 26 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.26.436691

Neurotropic virus infection can cause serious damage to the central nervous system (CNS) in both human and animals. The complexity of the CNS poses unique challenges to investigate the infection of these viruses in the brain using traditional techniques. In this study, we explore the use of fluorescence micro-optical sectioning tomography (fMOST) and single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to map the spatial and cellular distribution of a representative neurotropic virus, rabies virus (RABV), in the whole brain. Mice were inoculated with a lethal dose of recombinant RABV expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under different infection routes, and a three-dimensional view of the distribution of RABV in the whole mouse brain was obtained using fMOST. Meanwhile, we pinpointed the cellular distribution of RABV by utilizing scRNA-seq. Our fMOST data provide the first evidence that RABV can infect multiple nuclei related to fear independent of different infection routes. More surprisingly, scRNA-seq data indicate that besides neurons RABV can infect macrophages and NK cells in vivo. Collectively, this study draws a comprehensively spatial and cellular map of RABV infection in the mouse brain, providing a novel and insightful strategy to investigate the pathogenesis of neurotropic viruses.

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