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J Virol. 2017 Sep 27;91(20). pii: e00842-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00842-17. Print 2017 Oct 15.

Zinc Finger-Containing Cellular Transcription Corepressor ZBTB25 Promotes Influenza Virus RNA Transcription and Is a Target for Zinc Ejector Drugs.

Chen SC1, Jeng KS1,2, Lai MMC3,4,5.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
National RNAi Core Facility, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
Research Center for Emerging Viruses, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.


Influenza A virus (IAV) replication relies on an intricate interaction between virus and host cells. How the cellular proteins are usurped for IAV replication remains largely obscure. The aim of this study was to search for novel and potential cellular factors that participate in IAV replication. ZBTB25, a transcription repressor of a variety of cellular genes, was identified by an RNA interference (RNAi) genomic library screen. Depletion of ZBTB25 significantly reduced IAV production. Conversely, overexpression of ZBTB25 enhanced it. ZBTB25 interacted with the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) protein and modulated its transcription activity. In addition, ZBTB25 also functioned as a viral RNA (vRNA)-binding protein, binding preferentially to the U-rich sequence within the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of vRNA. Both protein-protein and protein-RNA interactions involving ZBTB25 facilitated viral RNA transcription and replication. In addition, ZBTB25 suppressed interferon production, further enhancing viral replication. ZBTB25-associated functions required an intact zinc finger domain and posttranslational SUMO-1 modification of ZBTB25. Furthermore, treatment with disulfiram (a zinc ejector) of ZBTB25-overexpressing cells showed significantly reduced IAV production as a result of reduced RNA synthesis. Our findings indicate that IAV usurps ZBTB25 for IAV RNA synthesis and serves as a novel and potential therapeutic antiviral target.IMPORTANCE IAV-induced seasonal influenza causes severe illness and death in high-risk populations. However, IAV has developed resistance to current antiviral drugs due to its high mutation rate. Therefore, development of drugs targeting cellular factors required for IAV replication is an attractive alternative for IAV therapy. Here, we discovered a cellular protein, ZBTB25, that enhances viral RdRp activity by binding to both viral RdRp and viral RNA to stimulate viral RNA synthesis. A unique feature of ZBTB25 in the regulation of viral replication is its dual transcription functions, namely, promoting viral RNA transcription through binding to the U-rich region of vRNA and suppressing cellular interferon production. ZBTB25 contains a zinc finger domain that is required for RNA-inhibitory activity by chelating zinc ions. Disulfiram treatment disrupts the zinc finger functions, effectively repressing IAV replication. Based on our findings, we demonstrate that ZBTB25 regulates IAV RNA transcription and replication and serves as a promising antiviral target for IAV treatment.


IAV replication; ZBTB25; influenza A virus

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