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Ciba Found Symp. 1993;176:233-43; discussion 243-7.

Mx proteins: GTPases involved in the interferon-induced antiviral state.

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Department of Virology, University of Freiburg, Germany.


Mx proteins have molecular masses between 70 and 80 kDa and their synthesis is tightly regulated by interferons in mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrates. Some Mx proteins function as intracellular mediators of the interferon-induced antiviral state. When suitable cDNA constructs were constitutively expressed in mouse 3T3 cells the mouse nuclear Mx1 protein conferred selective resistance to influenza virus. The human cytoplasmic MxA protein conferred resistance to influenza virus and vesicular stomatitis virus but not to other viruses. Mx1 blocks influenza virus mRNA synthesis within the nucleus of infected cells. Mx1 presumably interacts with the influenza virus polymerase subunit PB2, because overexpression of PB2 titrates out the Mx1 block. MxA does not inhibit mRNA synthesis of influenza virus; it inhibits a subsequent cytoplasmic viral multiplication step. A possible target is the transport of newly synthesized influenza virus polymerase proteins back to the nucleus. Inhibition by MxA of vesicular stomatitis virus, which replicates in the cytoplasm, is at the transcriptional level. Parts of the N-terminal halves of all known Mx proteins are highly conserved. They contain the typical GTP-binding motif and show significant homology to other members of a new family of GTPases that includes rat dynamin, Drosophila Shibire and the yeast proteins Vps1/Spo15 and Mgm1. Purified Mx1 and MxA proteins possess GTPase activity. The GTP/GDP conversion rates are about 40 per min, and Km values about 700 microM. Mx1 and MxA variants with mutations in the GTP-binding sequences that violate the consensus are unable to confer virus resistance in vivo or to hydrolyse GTP in vitro, suggesting that GTPase activity is necessary for antiviral activity of Mx proteins. We hypothesize that the antivirally active Mx proteins (directly or indirectly) bind to polymerase proteins of susceptible viruses, thereby abolishing normal viral polymerase function. Interaction of Mx with viral targets is probably a GTP-dependent process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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