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PLoS Pathog. 2018 Feb 7;14(2):e1006901. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006901. eCollection 2018 Feb.

Picornavirus 2A protease regulates stress granule formation to facilitate viral translation.

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State Key Laboratory of Virology and Modern Virology Research Center, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, LuoJia Hill, Wuhan, China.


Stress granules (SGs) contain stalled messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes and are related to the regulation of mRNA translation. Picornavirus infection can interfere with the formation of SGs. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms and functions of picornavirus-mediated regulation of SG formation are not clear. Here, we found that the 2A protease of a picornavirus, EV71, induced atypical stress granule (aSG), but not typical stress granule (tSG), formation via cleavage of eIF4GI. Furthermore, 2A was required and sufficient to inhibit tSGs induced by EV71 infection, sodium arsenite, or heat shock. Infection of 2A protease activity-inactivated recombinant EV71 (EV71-2AC110S) failed to induce aSG formation and only induced tSG formation, which is PKR and eIF2α phosphorylation-dependent. By using a Renilla luciferase mRNA reporter system and RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization assay, we found that EV71-induced aSGs were beneficial to viral translation through sequestering only cellular mRNAs, but not viral mRNAs. In addition, we found that the 2A protease of other picornaviruses such as poliovirus and coxsackievirus also induced aSG formation and blocked tSG formation. Taken together, our results demonstrate that, on one hand, EV71 infection induces tSG formation via the PKR-eIF2α pathway, and on the other hand, 2A, but not 3C, blocks tSG formation. Instead, 2A induces aSG formation by cleaving eIF4GI to sequester cellular mRNA but release viral mRNA, thereby facilitating viral translation.

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