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J Virol. 2014 Jan;88(1):41-53. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01501-13. Epub 2013 Oct 16.

Rotavirus NSP1 protein inhibits interferon-mediated STAT1 activation.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.


Rotavirus (RV) replicates efficiently in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) in vivo despite the activation of a local host interferon (IFN) response. Previously, we demonstrated that homologous RV efficiently inhibits IFN induction in single infected and bystander villous IECs in vivo. Paradoxically, RV also induces significant type I IFN expression in the intestinal hematopoietic cell compartment in a relatively replication-independent manner. This suggests that RV replication and spread in IECs must occur despite exogenous stimulation of the STAT1-mediated IFN signaling pathway. Here we report that RV inhibits IFN-mediated STAT1 tyrosine 701 phosphorylation in human IECs in vitro and identify RV NSP1 as a direct inhibitor of the pathway. Infection of human HT29 IECs with simian (RRV) or porcine (SB1A or OSU) RV strains, which inhibit IFN induction by targeting either IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) or NF-κB, respectively, resulted in similar regulation of IFN secretion. By flow cytometric analysis at early times during infection, neither RRV nor SB1A effectively inhibited the activation of Y701-STAT1 in response to exogenously added IFN. However, at later times during infection, both RV strains efficiently inhibited IFN-mediated STAT1 activation within virus-infected cells, indicating that RV encodes inhibitors of IFN signaling targeting STAT1 phosphorylation. Expression of RV NSP1 in the absence of other viral proteins resulted in blockage of exogenous IFN-mediated STAT1 phosphorylation, and this function was conserved in NSP1 from simian, bovine, and murine RV strains. Analysis of NSP1 determinants responsible for the inhibition of IFN induction and signaling pathways revealed that these determinants are encoded on discrete domains of NSP1. Finally, we observed that at later times during infection with SB1A, there was almost complete inhibition of IFN-mediated Y701-STAT1 in bystander cells staining negative for viral antigen. This property segregated with the NSP1 gene and was observed in a simian SA11 monoreassortant that encoded porcine OSU NSP1 but not in wild-type SA11 or a reassortant encoding simian RRV NSP1.

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