Section 60
Chapter 59,011

The Herpes Simplex Virus Virion Host Shutoff Protein Enhances Translation of Viral True Late mRNAs Independently of Suppressing Protein Kinase R and Stress Granule Formation

Dauber, B.; Poon, D.; Dos Santos, T.; Duguay, B.A.; Mehta, N.; Saffran, H.A.; Smiley, J.R.

Journal of Virology 90(13): 6049-6057


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-538X
PMID: 27099317
DOI: 10.1128/jvi.03180-15
Accession: 059010204

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The herpes simplex virus (HSV) virion host shutoff (vhs) RNase destabilizes cellular and viral mRNAs, suppresses host protein synthesis, dampens antiviral responses, and stimulates translation of viral mRNAs. vhs mutants display a host range phenotype: translation of viral true late mRNAs is severely impaired and stress granules accumulate in HeLa cells, while translation proceeds normally in Vero cells. We found that vhs-deficient virus activates the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase R (PKR) much more strongly than the wild-type virus does in HeLa cells, while PKR is not activated in Vero cells, raising the possibility that PKR might play roles in stress granule induction and/or inhibiting translation in restrictive cells. We tested this possibility by evaluating the effects of inactivating PKR. Eliminating PKR in HeLa cells abolished stress granule formation but had only minor effects on viral true late protein levels. These results document an essential role for PKR in stress granule formation by a nuclear DNA virus, indicate that induction of stress granules is the consequence rather than the cause of the translational defect, and are consistent with our previous suggestion that vhs promotes translation of viral true late mRNAs by preventing mRNA overload rather than by suppressing eIF2α phosphorylation. The herpes simplex virus vhs RNase plays multiple roles during infection, including suppressing PKR activation, inhibiting the formation of stress granules, and promoting translation of viral late mRNAs. A key question is the extent to which these activities are mechanistically connected. Our results demonstrate that PKR is essential for stress granule formation in the absence of vhs, but at best, it plays a secondary role in suppressing translation of viral mRNAs. Thus, the ability of vhs to promote translation of viral mRNAs can be largely uncoupled from PKR suppression, demonstrating that this viral RNase modulates at least two distinct aspects of RNA metabolism.

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