Induction of apoptosis in frog virus 3-infected cells

V. G. Chinchar, Locke Johnson Bryan, J. Wang, Scott Long, G. D. Chinchar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The ability of frog virus 3 (FV3), the type species of the family Iridoviridae, to induce apoptosis was examined by monitoring DNA cleavage, chromatin condensation, and cell-surface expression of phosphotidylserine (PS) in fathead minnow (FHM) and baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells. In productively infected FHM cells, DNA fragmentation was first noted at 6-7 h postinfection and was clearly seen by 17 h postinfection, while chromatin condensation was detected at 8.5 h postinfection. As with some other viruses, FV3-induced apoptosis did not require de novo viral gene expression as both heat-inactivated and UV-inactivated virus readily triggered DNA fragmentation in FHM cells. Moreover, FV3-induced apoptosis was blocked in FHM cells by the pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK, suggesting that virus infection triggers programmed cell death through activation of the caspase cascade. FV3 infection also triggered apoptosis in BHK cells as monitored by TUNEL and annexin V binding assays. To determine whether FV3, similar to other large DNA viruses, encoded proteins that block or delay apoptosis, mock- and FV3-infected FHM cells were osmotically shocked and assayed for DNA fragmentation 3 hours later. DNA fragmentation was clearly seen whether or not shocked cells were previously infected with FV3, indicating that infection with FV3 did not block apoptosis induced by osmotic shock in FHM cells. The above results demonstrate that iridoviruses triggered apoptosis and that the induction of programmed cell death did not require viral gene expression. However, it remains to be determined if virion attachment to target cells is sufficient to induce cell death, or if apoptosis is triggered directly or indirectly by one or more virion-associated proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-312
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Chromatin condensation
  • DNA fragmentation
  • FV3
  • Frog virus 3
  • Iridovirus
  • Osmotic shock
  • Ranavirus
  • TUNEL assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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