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J Virol. 2006 Jun;80(12):6072-83.

Dissociation of a MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif-IKKepsilon molecular complex from the mitochondrial outer membrane by hepatitis C virus NS3-4A proteolytic cleavage.

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  • 1Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, McGill University, Montreal H3T 1E2, Quebec, Canada.


Intracellular RNA virus infection is detected by the cytoplasmic RNA helicase RIG-I that plays an essential role in signaling to the host antiviral response. Recently, the adapter molecule that links RIG-I sensing of incoming viral RNA to downstream signaling and gene activation events was characterized by four different groups; MAVS/IPS-1-1/VISA/Cardif contains an amino-terminal CARD domain and a carboxyl-terminal mitochondrial transmembrane sequence that localizes to the mitochondrial membrane. Furthermore, the hepatitis C virus NS3-4A protease complex specifically targets MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif for cleavage as part of its immune evasion strategy. With a novel search program written in python, we also identified an uncharacterized protein, KIAA1271 (K1271), containing a single CARD-like domain at the N terminus and a Leu-Val-rich C terminus that is identical to that of MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif. Using a combination of biochemical analysis, subcellular fractionation, and confocal microscopy, we now demonstrate that NS3-4A cleavage of MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif/K1271 results in its dissociation from the mitochondrial membrane and disrupts signaling to the antiviral immune response. Furthermore, virus-induced IKKepsilon kinase, but not TBK1, colocalized strongly with MAVS at the mitochondrial membrane, and the localization of both molecules was disrupted by NS3-4A expression. Mutation of the critical cysteine 508 to alanine was sufficient to maintain mitochondrial localization of MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif and IKKepsilon in the presence of NS3-4A. These observations provide an outline of the mechanism by which hepatitis C virus evades the interferon antiviral response.

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