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Journal Article

Dissecting distinct proteolytic activities of FMDV Lpro implicates cleavage and degradation of RLR signaling proteins, not its deISGylase/DUB activity, in type I interferon suppression


Swatek,  Kirby N.
Schulman, Brenda / Molecular Machines and Signaling, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Visser, L. J., Aloise, C., Swatek, K. N., Medina, G. N., Olek, K. M., Rabouw, H. H., et al. (2020). Dissecting distinct proteolytic activities of FMDV Lpro implicates cleavage and degradation of RLR signaling proteins, not its deISGylase/DUB activity, in type I interferon suppression. PLoS Pathogens, 16(7): e1008702. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008702.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-86A4-8
Author summary Outbreaks of the picornavirus foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) have significant consequences for animal health and product safety and place a major economic burden on the global livestock industry. Understanding how this notorious animal pathogen suppresses the antiviral type I interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) response may help to develop countermeasures to control FMDV infections. FMDV suppresses the IFN-alpha/beta response through the activity of its Leader protein (L-pro), a protease that can cleave host cell proteins. L(pro)was also shown to have deubiquitinase and deISGylase activity, raising the possibility that L(pro)suppresses IFN-alpha/beta by removing ubiquitin and/or ISG15, two posttranslational modifications that can regulate the activation, interactions and localization of (signaling) proteins. Here, we show that TBK1 and MAVS, two signaling proteins that are important for activation of IFN-alpha/beta gene transcription, are cleaved by L-pro. By generating L(pro)mutants lacking either of these two activities, we demonstrate that L-pro's ability to cleave signaling proteins, but not its deubiquitination/deISGylase activity, correlates with suppression of IFN-beta gene transcription. The type I interferon response is an important innate antiviral pathway. Recognition of viral RNA by RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) activates a signaling cascade that leads to type I interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) gene transcription. Multiple proteins in this signaling pathway (e.g. RIG-I, MDA5, MAVS, TBK1, IRF3) are regulated by (de)ubiquitination events. Most viruses have evolved mechanisms to counter this antiviral response. The leader protease (L-pro) of foot-and-mouth-disease virus (FMDV) has been recognized to reduce IFN-alpha/beta gene transcription; however, the exact mechanism is unknown. The proteolytic activity of L(pro)is vital for releasing itself from the viral polyprotein and for cleaving and degrading specific host cell proteins, such as eIF4G and NF-kappa B. In addition, L(pro)has been demonstrated to have deubiquitination/deISGylation activity. L-pro's deubiquitination/deISGylation activity and the cleavage/degradation of signaling proteins have both been postulated to be important for reduced IFN-alpha/beta gene transcription. Here, we demonstrate that TBK1, the kinase that phosphorylates and activates the transcription factor IRF3, is cleaved by L(pro)in FMDV-infected cells as well as in cells infected with a recombinant EMCV expressing L-pro.In vitrocleavage experiments revealed that L(pro)cleaves TBK1 at residues 692-694. We also observed cleavage of MAVS in HeLa cells infected with EMCV-L-pro, but only observed decreasing levels of MAVS in FMDV-infected porcine LFPK alpha V beta 6 cells. We set out to dissect L-pro's ability to cleave RLR signaling proteins from its deubiquitination/deISGylation activity, to determine their relative contributions to the reduction of IFN-alpha/beta gene transcription. The introduction of specific mutations, of which several were based on the recently published structure of L(pro)in complex with ISG15, allowed us to identify specific amino acid substitutions that separate the different proteolytic activities of L-pro. Characterization of the effects of these mutations revealed that L-pro's ability to cleave RLR signaling proteins but not its deubiquitination/deISGylation activity correlates with the reduced IFN-beta gene transcription.