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J Virol. 2008 Sep;82(17):8330-8. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00831-08. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

STAT2 is a primary target for measles virus V protein-mediated alpha/beta interferon signaling inhibition.

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Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA.


Measles virus, a member of the Morbillivirus family, infects millions of people each year despite the availability of effective vaccines. The V protein of measles virus is an important virulence factor that can interfere with host innate immunity by inactivating alpha/beta interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) and IFN-gamma signaling through protein interactions with signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins STAT1 and STAT2. Here we demonstrate that although STAT1 interference results from protein interactions within a V protein N-terminal region encompassed by amino acids 110 to 130, detection of STAT1 interaction and IFN-gamma signaling inhibition requires the presence of cellular STAT2. Cell-specific variability in STAT1 interference was observed to correlate with V protein expression level. A more direct target for measles virus V protein-mediated IFN-alpha/beta evasion is STAT2. Results indicate that the widely conserved C-terminal zinc finger domain of measles virus V protein is both necessary and sufficient to bind STAT2 and disrupt IFN-alpha/beta signal transduction. Mutagenesis and molecular modeling define a contact surface for STAT2 association that includes aspartic acid residue 248 as critical for STAT2 interference and IFN antiviral immune suppression. These findings clearly define the molecular determinants for measles virus IFN evasion and validate specific targets as candidates for therapeutic intervention.

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