Accelerated viral dynamics in bat cell lines, with implications for zoonotic emergence

Cara E. Brook, Mike Boots, Kartik Chandran, Andrew P. Dobson, Christian Drosten, Andrea L. Graham, Bryan T. Grenfell, Marcel A. Müller, Melinda Ng, Lin Fa Wang, Anieke van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Bats host virulent zoonotic viruses without experiencing disease. A mechanistic understanding of the impact of bats’ virus hosting capacities, including uniquely constitutive immune pathways, on cellular-scale viral dynamics is needed to elucidate zoonotic emergence. We carried out virus infectivity assays on bat cell lines expressing induced and constitutive immune phenotypes, then developed a theoretical model of our in vitro system, which we fit to empirical data. Best fit models recapitulated expected immune phenotypes for representative cell lines, supporting robust antiviral defenses in bat cells that correlated with higher estimates for within-host viral propagation rates. In general, heightened immune responses limit pathogen-induced cellular morbidity, which can facilitate the establishment of rapidly-propagating persistent infections within-host. Rapidly-replicating viruses that have evolved with bat immune systems will likely cause enhanced virulence following emergence into secondary hosts with immune systems that diverge from those unique to bats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere48401
StatePublished - Feb 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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