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J Virol. 2003 Jul;77(14):7945-56.

The Ebola virus VP35 protein inhibits activation of interferon regulatory factor 3.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA. chris.basler@mssm.edu


The Ebola virus VP35 protein was previously found to act as an interferon (IFN) antagonist which could complement growth of influenza delNS1 virus, a mutant influenza virus lacking the influenza virus IFN antagonist protein, NS1. The Ebola virus VP35 could also prevent the virus- or double-stranded RNA-mediated transcriptional activation of both the beta IFN (IFN-beta) promoter and the IFN-stimulated ISG54 promoter (C. Basler et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97:12289-12294, 2000). We now show that VP35 inhibits virus infection-induced transcriptional activation of IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3)-responsive mammalian promoters and that VP35 does not block signaling from the IFN-alpha/beta receptor. The ability of VP35 to inhibit this virus-induced transcription correlates with its ability to block activation of IRF-3, a cellular transcription factor of central importance in initiating the host cell IFN response. We demonstrate that VP35 blocks the Sendai virus-induced activation of two promoters which can be directly activated by IRF-3, namely, the ISG54 promoter and the ISG56 promoter. Further, expression of VP35 prevents the IRF-3-dependent activation of the IFN-alpha4 promoter in response to viral infection. The inhibition of IRF-3 appears to occur through an inhibition of IRF-3 phosphorylation. VP35 blocks virus-induced IRF-3 phosphorylation and subsequent IRF-3 dimerization and nuclear translocation. Consistent with these observations, Ebola virus infection of Vero cells activated neither transcription from the ISG54 promoter nor nuclear accumulation of IRF-3. These data suggest that in Ebola virus-infected cells, VP35 inhibits the induction of antiviral genes, including the IFN-beta gene, by blocking IRF-3 activation.

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