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J Gen Virol. 2018 Jan;99(1):73-85. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.000982. Epub 2017 Nov 28.

The 3C protease of enterovirus A71 counteracts the activity of host zinc-finger antiviral protein (ZAP).

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1​CAS Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, PR China.
2​University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, PR China.
3​Department of Microbiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230032, PR China.
4​​State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430071, PR China.


Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) is a positive-strand RNA virus that causes hand-foot-mouth disease and neurological complications in children and infants. Although the underlying mechanisms remain to be further defined, impaired immunity is thought to play an important role. The host zinc-finger antiviral protein (ZAP), an IFN-stimulated gene product, has been reported to specifically inhibit the replication of certain viruses. However, whether ZAP restricts the infection of enteroviruses remains unknown. Here, we report that EV-A71 infection upregulates ZAP mRNA in RD and HeLa cells. Moreover, ZAP overexpression rendered 293 T cells resistant to EV-A71 infection, whereas siRNA-mediated depletion of endogenous ZAP enhanced EV-A71 infection. The EV-A71 infection stimulated site-specific proteolysis of two ZAP isoforms, leading to the accumulation of a 40 kDa N-terminal ZAP fragment in virus-infected cells. We further revealed that the 3C protease (3Cpro) of EV-A71 mediates ZAP cleavage, which requires protease activity. Furthermore, ZAP variants with single amino acid substitutions at Gln-369 were resistant to 3Cpro cleavage, implying that Gln-369 is the sole cleavage site in ZAP. Moreover, although ZAP overexpression inhibited EV-A71 replication, the cleaved fragments did not show this effect. Our results indicate that an equilibrium between ZAP and enterovirus 3Cpro controls viral infection. The findings in this study suggest that viral 3Cpro mediated ZAP cleavage may represent a mechanism to escape host antiviral responses.


3C; cleavage; enterovirus A71; zinc finger antiviral protein

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