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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019 Jun 28;13(6):e0007537. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007537. eCollection 2019 Jun.

The E3 ligase TRIM56 is a host restriction factor of Zika virus and depends on its RNA-binding activity but not miRNA regulation, for antiviral function.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, United States of America.
Children's Foundation Research Institute at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, United States of America.
Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, Doylestown, PA, United States of America.
Department of Infectious Diseases, the Second Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.


Infection by Zika virus (ZIKV) is linked to microcephaly and other neurological disorders, posing a significant health threat. Innate immunity is the first line of defense against invading pathogens, but relatively little is understood regarding host intrinsic mechanisms that guard against ZIKV. Here, we show that host tripartite motif-containing protein 56 (TRIM56) poses a barrier to ZIKV infection in cells of neural, epithelial and fibroblast origins. Overexpression of TRIM56, but not an E3 ligase-dead mutant or one lacking a short C-terminal portion, inhibited ZIKV RNA replication. Conversely, depletion of TRIM56 increased viral RNA levels. Although the C-terminal region of TRIM56 bears sequence homology to NHL repeat of TRIM-NHL proteins that regulate miRNA activity, knockout of Dicer, which abolishes production of miRNAs, had no demonstrable effect on ZIKV restriction imposed by TRIM56. Rather, we found that TRIM56 is an RNA-binding protein that associates with ZIKV RNA in infected cells. Moreover, a recombinant TRIM56 fragment comprising the C-terminal 392 residues captured ZIKV RNA in cell-free reactions, indicative of direct interaction. Remarkably, deletion of a short C-terminal tail portion abrogated the TRIM56-ZIKV RNA interaction, concomitant with a loss in antiviral activity. Altogether, our study reveals TRIM56 is an RNA binding protein that acts as a ZIKV restriction factor and provides new insights into the antiviral mechanism by which this E3 ligase tackles flavivirus infections.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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