The interferon (IFN) response is the earliest host immune response dedicated to combating viral infection. As such, viruses have evolved strategies to subvert this potent antiviral response. Two closely related gammaherpesviruses, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and rhesus macaque rhadinovirus (RRV), are unique in that they express viral homologues to cellular interferon regulatory factors (IRFs), termed viral IRFs (vIRFs). Cellular IRFs are a family of transcription factors that are particularly important for the transcription of type I IFNs. Here, we demonstrate a strategy employed by RRV to ensure rapid inhibition of virus-induced type I IFN induction. We found that RRV vIRF R6, when expressed ectopically, interacts with a transcriptional coactivator, CREB-binding protein (CBP), in the nucleus. As a result, phosphorylated IRF3, an important transcriptional regulator in beta interferon (IFN-β) transcription, fails to effectively bind to the IFN-β promoter, thus inhibiting the activation of IFN-β genes. In addition, we found R6 within RRV virion particles via immunoelectron microscopy and, furthermore, that virion-associated R6 is capable of inhibiting the type I IFN response by preventing efficient binding of IRF3/CBP complexes to the IFN-β promoter in the context of infection. The work shown here is the first example of a vIRF being associated with either the KSHV or RRV virion. The presence of this immunomodulatory protein in the RRV virion provides the virus with an immediate mechanism to evade the host IFN response, thus enabling the virus to effectively establish an infection within the host.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science