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J Virol. 2008 Sep;82(17):8262-71. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00226-08. Epub 2008 Jun 18.

West Nile virus nonstructural protein 1 inhibits TLR3 signal transduction.

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Department of Microbiology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7615, USA.


The innate immune response is the first line of defense against foreign pathogens. The recognition of virus-associated molecular patterns, including double- and single-stranded RNA, by pattern recognition receptors initiates a cascade of signaling reactions. These result in the transcriptional upregulation and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines that induce an antiviral state. Many viruses have evolved mechanisms to antagonize these responses in order to help them establish a productive infection. We have previously shown that West Nile virus (WNV) is able to inhibit Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3)-mediated activation of interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) (F. Scholle and P. W. Mason, Virology 342:77-87, 2005). In the present study, the WNV nonstructural (NS) proteins were analyzed individually for their ability to antagonize signal transduction mediated by TLR3. We report that expression of WNV NS1 inhibits TLR3-induced transcriptional activation of the IFN-beta promoter and of an NF-kappaB-responsive promoter. This inhibition was due to a failure of the TLR3 ligand poly(I:C) to induce nuclear translocation of IRF3 and NF-kappaB. Furthermore, NS1 expression also inhibited TLR3-dependent production of interleukin-6 and the establishment of an antiviral state. The function of NS1 in flavivirus infection is not well understood. NS1 is required for viral RNA replication and is also secreted from mammalian cells but not from insect cells. Here, we identify a previously unrecognized role for NS1 in the modulation of signaling pathways of the innate immune response to WNV infection.

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