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Journal Article

eIF2B as a Target for Viral Evasion of PKR-Mediated Translation Inhibition

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Habjan,  Matthias
Pichlmair, Andreas / Innate Immunity, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Pichlmair,  Andreas
Pichlmair, Andreas / Innate Immunity, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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mBio-2020-Wuerth-e00976-20.full.pdf
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Citation

Wuerth, J. D., Habjan, M., Kainulainen, M., Berisha, B., Bertheloot, D., Superti-Furga, G., et al. (2020). eIF2B as a Target for Viral Evasion of PKR-Mediated Translation Inhibition. mBio, 11(4): e00976-20. doi:10.1128/mBio.00976-20.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-D5BF-2
Abstract
RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) is a major innate immune factor that senses viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and phosphorylates eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 2 alpha. Phosphorylation of the a subunit converts the eIF2 alpha beta gamma complex into a stoichiometric inhibitor of eukaryotic initiation factor eIF2B, thus halting mRNA translation. To escape this protein synthesis shutoff, viruses have evolved countermechanisms such as dsRNA sequestration, eIF-independent translation by an internal ribosome binding site, degradation of PKR, or dephosphorylation of PKR or of phospho-eIF2 alpha. Here, we report that sandfly fever Sicilian phlebovirus (SFSV) confers such a resistance without interfering with PKR activation or eIF2 alpha phosphorylation. Rather, SFSV expresses a nonstructural protein termed NSs that strongly binds to eIF2B. Although NSs still allows phosphoe-IF2 alpha binding to eIF2B, protein synthesis and virus replication are unhindered. Hence, SFSV encodes a unique PKR antagonist that acts by rendering eIF2B resistant to the inhibitory action of bound phospho-eIF2 alpha. IMPORTANCE RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) is one of the most powerful antiviral defense factors of the mammalian host. PKR acts by phosphorylating mRNA translation initiation factor eIF2 alpha, thereby converting it from a cofactor to an inhibitor of mRNA translation that strongly binds to initiation factor eIF2B. To sustain synthesis of their proteins, viruses are known to counteract this on the level of PKR or eIF2 alpha or by circumventing initiation factor-dependent translation altogether. Here, we report a different PKR escape strategy executed by sandfly fever Sicilian virus (SFSV), a member of the increasingly important group of phleboviruses. We found that the nonstructural protein NSs of SFSV binds to eIF2B and protects it from inactivation by PKR-generated phospho-eIF2 alpha. Protein synthesis is hence maintained and the virus can replicate despite ongoing full-fledged PKR signaling in the infected cells. Thus, SFSV has evolved a unique strategy to escape the powerful antiviral PKR.