Infection by the dengue virus (DENV) threatens global public health due to its high prevalence and the lack of effective treatments. Host factors may contribute to the pathogenesis of DENV; herein, we investigated the role of nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), which is activated by DENV in mononuclear phagocytes. DENV infection selectively activates Nrf2 following nuclear translocation. Following endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress, protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK) facilitated Nrf2-mediated transcriptional activation of C-type lectin domain family 5, member A (CLEC5A) to increase CLEC5A expression. Signaling downstream of the Nrf2-CLEC5A interaction enhances Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3)-independent tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α production following DENV infection. Forced expression of the NS2B3 viral protein induces Nrf2 nuclear translocation/activation and CLEC5A expression which increases DENV-induced TNF-α production. Animal studies confirmed Nrf2-induced CLEC5A and TNF-α in brains of DENV-infected mice. These results demonstrate that DENV infection causes Nrf2-regulated TNF-α production by increasing levels of CLEC5A.
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