Juliet Morrison 1 , 2 , Maudry Laurent-Rolle 1 , 2 , Ana M. Maestre 1 , Ricardo Rajsbaum 1 , 2 , Giuseppe Pisanelli 1 , 2 , 4 , Viviana Simon 1 , 2 , 3 , Lubbertus C. F. Mulder 1 , 2 , Ana Fernandez-Sesma 1 , 2 , 3 , Adolfo García-Sastre 1 , 2 , 3 , *
28 March 2013
An estimated 50 million dengue virus (DENV) infections occur annually and more than forty percent of the human population is currently at risk of developing dengue fever (DF) or dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). Despite the prevalence and potential severity of DF and DHF, there are no approved vaccines or antiviral therapeutics available. An improved understanding of DENV immune evasion is pivotal for the rational development of anti-DENV therapeutics. Antagonism of type I interferon (IFN-I) signaling is a crucial mechanism of DENV immune evasion. DENV NS5 protein inhibits IFN-I signaling by mediating proteasome-dependent STAT2 degradation. Only proteolytically-processed NS5 can efficiently mediate STAT2 degradation, though both unprocessed and processed NS5 bind STAT2. Here we identify UBR4, a 600-kDa member of the N-recognin family, as an interacting partner of DENV NS5 that preferentially binds to processed NS5. Our results also demonstrate that DENV NS5 bridges STAT2 and UBR4. Furthermore, we show that UBR4 promotes DENV-mediated STAT2 degradation, and most importantly, that UBR4 is necessary for efficient viral replication in IFN-I competent cells. Our data underscore the importance of NS5-mediated STAT2 degradation in DENV replication and identify UBR4 as a host protein that is specifically exploited by DENV to inhibit IFN-I signaling via STAT2 degradation.
Dengue virus (DENV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne viral illness and death in humans. At present, there are no vaccines and no specific antiviral therapeutics to prevent or treat DENV infections. We previously described that the NS5 protein of DENV inhibits type I interferon signaling in virus-infected cells by mediating STAT2 degradation. This property allows DENV to overcome the antiviral effects of type I interferon, contributing to viral replication in the host. We have now obtained new insight into the mechanism by which DENV NS5 induces STAT2 degradation. NS5 bridges STAT2 with the cellular protein UBR4, a member of a family of predicted E3 ligases, resulting in UBR4-mediated STAT2 degradation. Elimination of UBR4 or mutations in NS5 that prevent its binding to UBR4 prevent NS5 from inducing STAT2 degradation. Importantly, UBR4 is required for optimal DENV replication in the presence of a competent type I interferon system. Our data demonstrate the requirement of a host factor, UBR4, for DENV to overcome the antiviral interferon response. This information might be important for the design of specific DENV inhibitors that prevent dengue virus from evading innate immunity.