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J Biol Chem. 2008 Feb 29;283(9):5719-27. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M707195200. Epub 2007 Dec 28.

Avian and 1918 Spanish influenza a virus NS1 proteins bind to Crk/CrkL Src homology 3 domains to activate host cell signaling.

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Department of Virology, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Haartmaninkatu 3 POB 21, FIN-00014, Helsinki, Finland.


NS1 (nonstructural protein 1) is an important virulence factor of the influenza A virus. We observed that NS1 proteins of the 1918 pandemic virus (A/Brevig Mission/1/18) and many avian influenza A viruses contain a consensus Src homology 3 (SH3) domain-binding motif. Screening of a comprehensive human SH3 phage library revealed the N-terminal SH3 of Crk and CrkL as the preferred binding partners. Studies with recombinant proteins confirmed avid binding of NS1 proteins of the 1918 virus and a representative avian H7N3 strain to Crk/CrkL SH3 but not to other SH3 domains tested, including p85alpha and p85beta. Endogenous CrkL readily co-precipitated NS1 from cells infected with the H7N3 virus. In transfected cells association with CrkL was observed for NS1 of the 1918 and H7N3 viruses but not A/Udorn/72 or A/WSN/33 NS1 lacking this sequence motif. SH3 binding was dispensable for suppression of interferon-induced gene expression by NS1 but was associated with enhanced phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling, as evidenced by increased Akt phosphorylation. Thus, the Spanish Flu virus resembles avian influenza A viruses in its ability to recruit Crk/CrkL to modulate host cell signaling.

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