Astrovirus infects actively secreting goblet cells and alters the gut mucus barrier.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15999-y
Astroviruses are a global cause of pediatric diarrhea, but they are largely understudied, and it is unclear how and where they replicate in the gut. Using an in vivo model, here we report that murine astrovirus preferentially infects actively secreting small intestinal goblet cells, specialized epithelial cells that maintain the mucus barrier. Consequently, virus infection alters mucus production, leading to an increase in mucus-associated bacteria and resistance to enteropathogenic E. coli colonization. These studies establish the main target cell type and region of the gut for productive murine astrovirus infection. They further define a mechanism by which an enteric virus can regulate the mucus barrier, induce functional changes to commensal microbial communities, and alter host susceptibility to pathogenic bacteria.