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The Ebola virus (EBOV) variant Makona (which emerged in 2013) was the causative agent of the largest outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease recorded. Differences in virus-host interactions between viral variants have potential consequences for transmission, disease severity and mortality. A detailed profile of the cellular changes induced by the Makona variant compared with other Ebola virus variants was lacking. In this study, A549 cells, a human cell line with a robust innate response, were infected with the Makona variant or with the Ecran variant originating from the 1976 outbreak in Central Africa. The abundance of viral and cellular mRNA transcripts was profiled using RNASeq and differential gene expression analysis performed. Differences in effects of each virus on the expression of interferon-stimulated genes were also investigated in A549 NPro cells where the type 1 interferon response had been attenuated. Cellular transcriptomic changes were compared with those induced by human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), a virus with a similar genome organisation and replication strategy to EBOV. Pathway and gene ontology analysis revealed differential expression of functionally important genes; including genes involved in the inflammatory response, cell proliferation, leukocyte extravasation and cholesterol biosynthesis. Whilst there was overlap with HRSV, there was unique commonality to the EBOV variants.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





National Infection Service, Public Health England, Porton Down, Salisbury, UK.


Humans, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human, Gene Expression Profiling, Sequence Analysis, RNA, Ebolavirus, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Transcriptome, A549 Cells