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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Feb 4;111(5):E611-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1323414111. Epub 2014 Jan 21.

HSV-1 degrades, stabilizes, requires, or is stung by STING depending on ICP0, the US3 protein kinase, and cell derivation.

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The Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637.


STING (stimulator of IFN genes) activates the IFN pathway in response to cytosolic DNA. Knockout of STING in mice was reported to exacerbate the pathogenicity of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). Here we report the following: (i) STING is stable in cancer-derived HEp-2 or HeLa cells infected with wild-type HSV-1 but is degraded in cells infected with mutants lacking the genes encoding functional infected cell protein 0 (ICP0), ICP4, or the US3 protein kinase (US3-PK). In HEp-2 cells, depletion of STING by shRNA results in a decrease in the yields of wild-type or ΔICP0 viruses. (ii) STING is stable throughout infection with either wild-type or ICP0 mutant viruses in human embryonic lung cells (HEL) or HEK293T cells derived from normal tissues. In these cells, depletion of STING results in higher yields of both wild-type and ΔICP0 viruses. (iii) The US3-PK is also required for stabilization of IFI16, a nuclear DNA sensor. However, the stability of IFI16 does not correlate positively or negatively with that of STING. IFI16 is stable in STING-depleted HEL cells infected with wild-type virus. In contrast to HEL cells, IFI16 was undetectable in STING-depleted HEp-2 cells, and hence the role of HSV-1 in maintaining IFI16 could not be ascertained. The results indicate that in HSV-1-infected cells the stability of IFI16 and the function and stability of STING are dependent on cell derivation, the functional integrity of ICP0, and US3-PK, an indication that in wild-type virus-infected cells both proteins are actively stabilized. In HEp-2 cells, the stability of IFI16 requires STING.


cell transformation; innate immunity

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