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PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jul 29;11(7):e1005060. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005060. eCollection 2015 Jul.

An Internally Translated MAVS Variant Exposes Its Amino-terminal TRAF-Binding Motifs to Deregulate Interferon Induction.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.


Activation of pattern recognition receptors and proper regulation of downstream signaling are crucial for host innate immune response. Upon infection, the NF-κB and interferon regulatory factors (IRF) are often simultaneously activated to defeat invading pathogens. Mechanisms concerning differential activation of NF-κB and IRF are not well understood. Here we report that a MAVS variant inhibits interferon (IFN) induction, while enabling NF-κB activation. Employing herpesviral proteins that selectively activate NF-κB signaling, we discovered that a MAVS variant of ~50 kDa, thus designated MAVS50, was produced from internal translation initiation. MAVS50 preferentially interacts with TRAF2 and TRAF6, and activates NF-κB. By contrast, MAVS50 inhibits the IRF activation and suppresses IFN induction. Biochemical analysis showed that MAVS50, exposing a degenerate TRAF-binding motif within its N-terminus, effectively competed with full-length MAVS for recruiting TRAF2 and TRAF6. Ablation of the TRAF-binding motif of MAVS50 impaired its inhibitory effect on IRF activation and IFN induction. These results collectively identify a new means by which signaling events is differentially regulated via exposing key internally embedded interaction motifs, implying a more ubiquitous regulatory role of truncated proteins arose from internal translation and other related mechanisms.

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