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Titolo: Exploitation of Ebola Virus VP35 Protein to identify new drugs counteracting its type I IFN antagonism
Data di pubblicazione: 6-mag-2015
Abstract: Ebolaviruses (EBOVs) are among the most virulent and deadly pathogens ever known, causing fulminant haemorrhagic fevers in humans and non-human primates. The 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa has claimed more lives than all previous EVD outbreaks combined. The EBOV high mortality rates have been related to the virus-induced impairment of the host innate immunity reaction due to two virus-coded proteins, VP24 and VP35. EBOV VP35 is a multifunctional protein, it is essential for viral replication as a component of the viral RNA polymerase and it also participates in nucleocapsid assembly. Early during EBOV infection, alpha-beta interferon (IFN-α/β) production would be triggered upon recognition of viral dsRNA products by cytoplasmic retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I)-like receptors (RLRs). However, this recognition is efficiently prevented by the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding activity of the EBOV VP35 protein, which hides RLRs binding sites on the dsRNA phosphate backbone as well the 5’-triphosphate (5’-ppp) dsRNA ends to RIG-I recognition. In addition to dsRNA binding and sequestration, EBOV VP35 inhibits IFN-α/β production preventing the activation of the IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) by direct interaction with cellular proteins. Previous studies demonstrated that single amino acid changes in the VP35 dsRNA binding domain reduce EBOV virulence, indicating that VP35 is an attractive target for antiviral drugs development. Within this context, here we report the establishment of a novel method to characterize the EBOV VP35 inhibitory function of the dsRNA-dependent RIG-I-mediated IFN-β signaling pathway in a BLS2 cell culture setting. In such system, a plasmid containing the promoter region of IFN-β gene linked with a luciferase reporter gene was transfected, together with a EBOV VP35 mammalian expression plasmid, into the IFN-sensitive A549 cell line, and the IFN-induction was stimulated through dsRNA transfection. Through alanine scanning mutational studies with biochemical, cellular and computational methods we highlighted the importance of some VP35 residues involved in dsRNA end-capping binding, such as R312, K282 and R322, that may serve as target for the development of small-molecule inhibitors against EBOV. Furthermore, we identified a synthetic compound that increased IFN-induction only under antiviral response stimulation and subverted VP35 inhibition, proving to be very attractive for the development of an antiviral drug. In conclusion, our results provide the establishment of a new assay as a straightforward tool for the screening of antiviral compounds that target i) dsRNA-VP35 or cellular protein-VP35 interaction and ii) dsRNA-dependent RIG-I-mediated IFN signaling pathway, in order to potentiate the IFN response against VP35 inhibition, setting the bases for further drug development.
Tipologia:8.2 Tesi di dottorato (ePrints)

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