Viral persistence can contribute to chronic disease and promote virus dissemination. Prior work demonstrated that timely clearance of systemic murine norovirus (MNV) infection depends on cell-intrinsic type I interferon responses and adaptive immunity. We now find that the capsid of the systemically replicating MNV strain CW3 promotes lytic cell death, release of interleukin-1α, and increased inflammatory cytokine release. Correspondingly, inflammatory monocytes and neutrophils are recruited to sites of infection in a CW3-capsid-dependent manner. Recruited monocytes and neutrophils are subsequently infected, representing a majority of infected cells in vivo. Systemic depletion of inflammatory monocytes or neutrophils from persistently infected Rag1-/- mice reduces viral titers in a tissue-specific manner. These data indicate that the CW3 capsid facilitates lytic cell death, inflammation, and recruitment of susceptible cells to promote persistence. Infection of continuously recruited inflammatory cells may be a mechanism of persistence broadly utilized by lytic viruses incapable of establishing latency.
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