Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Abrogates the cGAS/STING-Mediated Cytosolic DNA-Sensing Pathway via Its Virion Host Shutoff Protein, UL41.

Abstract

Cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) is a key DNA sensor capable of detecting microbial DNA and activating the adaptor protein stimulator of interferon genes (STING), leading to interferon (IFN) production and host antiviral responses. Cells exhibited reduced type I IFN production in response to cytosolic DNA in the absence of cGAS. Although the cGAS/STING-mediated DNA-sensing signal is crucial for host defense against many viruses, especially for DNA viruses, few viral components have been identified to specifically target this signaling pathway. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a DNA virus that has evolved multiple strategies to evade host immune responses. In the present study, we found that HSV-1 tegument protein UL41 was involved in counteracting the cGAS/STING-mediated DNA-sensing pathway. Our results showed that wild-type (WT) HSV-1 infection could inhibit immunostimulatory DNA-induced activation of the IFN signaling pathway compared with the UL41-null mutant virus (R2621), and ectopic expression of UL41 decreased cGAS/STING-mediated IFN-β promoter activation and IFN-β production. Further study indicated that UL41 reduced the accumulation of cGAS to abrogate host recognition of viral DNA. In addition, stable knockdown of cGAS facilitated the replication of R2621 but not WT HSV-1. For the first time, HSV-1 UL41 was demonstrated to evade the cGAS/STING-mediated DNA-sensing pathway by degrading cGAS via its RNase activity.IMPORTANCE HSV-1 is well known for its ability to evade host antiviral responses and establish a lifelong latent infection while triggering reactivation and lytic infection under stress. Currently, whether HSV-1 evades the cytosolic DNA sensing and signaling is still poorly understood. In the present study, we found that tegument protein UL41 targeted the cGAS/STING-mediated cellular DNA-sensing pathway by selectively degrading cGAS mRNA. Knockdown of endogenous cGAS could facilitate the replication of R2621 but not WT HSV-1. Furthermore, UL41 was shown for the first time to act directly on cGAS. Findings in this study could provide new insights into the host-virus interaction and help develop new approaches against HSV-1.

DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02414-16

Cite this paper

@article{Su2017HerpesSV, title={Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Abrogates the cGAS/STING-Mediated Cytosolic DNA-Sensing Pathway via Its Virion Host Shutoff Protein, UL41.}, author={Chenhe Su and Chunfu Zheng}, journal={Journal of virology}, year={2017}, volume={91 6} }