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J Virol. 2010 Feb;84(4):1785-91. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01362-09. Epub 2009 Dec 9.

Z proteins of New World arenaviruses bind RIG-I and interfere with type I interferon induction.

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  • 1Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The retinoic acid-inducible gene I product (RIG-I) is a cellular sensor of RNA virus infection that regulates the cellular beta interferon (IFN-beta) response. The nucleoproteins (NP) of arenaviruses are reported to antagonize the IFN response by inhibiting interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3). Here, we demonstrate that the Z proteins of four New World (NW) arenaviruses, Guanarito virus (GTOV), Junin virus (JUNV), Machupo virus (MAVC), and Sabia virus (SABV), bind to RIG-I, resulting in downregulation of the IFN-beta response. We show that expression of the four NW arenavirus Z proteins inhibits IFN-beta mRNA induction in A549 cells in response to RNA bearing 5' phosphates (5'pppRNA). NW arenavirus Z proteins interact with RIG-I in coimmunoprecipitation studies and colocalize with RIG-I. Furthermore, expression of Z proteins interferes with the interaction between RIG-I and MAVS. Z expression also impedes the nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kappaB) and IRF-3 activation. Our results indicate that NW arenavirus Z proteins, but not Z protein of the Old World (OW) arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) or Lassa virus, bind to RIG-I and inhibit downstream activation of the RIG-I signaling pathway, preventing the transcriptional induction of IFN-beta.

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