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Cell Microbiol. 2010 Mar;12(3):310-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2009.01395.x. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Differential IFN-alpha/beta production suppressing capacities of the leader proteins of mengovirus and foot-and-mouth disease virus.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Picornaviruses encompass a large family of RNA viruses. Some picornaviruses possess a leader (L) protein at the N-terminus of their polyprotein. The L proteins of encephalomyocarditis virus, a cardiovirus, and foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), an aphthovirus, are both dispensable for replication and their major function seems to be the suppression of antiviral host cell responses. Previously, we showed that the L protein of mengovirus, a strain of encephalomyocarditis virus, inhibits antiviral responses by inhibiting type I interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) gene transcription. The L protein of the FMDV is a protease (L(pro)) that cleaves cellular factors to reduce cytokine and chemokine mRNA production and to inhibit cap-dependent cellular host mRNA translation, thereby limiting the production of proteins with antiviral activity. In this study, we constructed a viable chimeric mengovirus that expresses FMDV L(pro) in place of the authentic L protein in order to compare the efficiency of the immune evasion mechanisms mediated by L and L(pro) respectively. We show that in this mengovirus background the L protein is more potent than FMDV L(pro) in suppressing IFN-alpha/beta responses. Yet, FMDV L(pro) is important to antagonize infection-limiting responses both in vitro and in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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