Interferons and viruses: an interplay between induction, signalling, antiviral responses and virus countermeasures.
The interferon-(IFN)-inducible 2',5'-oligoadenylate (2-5A)/endoribonuclease L (RNase L) pathway plays a major role in the antiviral and antiproliferative effects of IFN. The 2-5A/RNase L pathway appears to be regulated by the cell-growth status or viral infection. Viruses, and picornaviruses in particular, have evolved strategies to escape the 2-5A/RNase L-pathway-associated antiviral activity. We have recently cloned a cDNA coding for RLI, a RNase-L-specific protein inhibitor. Its regulated expression by viral infection could provide a new strategy to modulate the 2-5A/RNase L pathway. Since RNase L had been shown to be down regulated upon encephalomyocarditis (EMCV) infection, we stably transfected HeLa cells with a RLI antisense cDNA expressing vector. Four independent clones named VAS1, VAS2, VAS3 and VAS4 and one clone transfected with the empty vector (VV) as control, were analyzed. The level of RLI was decreased by 20% for VAS1, 25% for VAS2, 75% for VAS3 and 50% for VAS4. The inactivation of RNase L observed during EMCV infection was decreased in these clones as compared to control HeLa cells. Here again the results vary between the four clones. The maximum inhibition of RNase L (90%) was observed in control cells and in VAS1 while 48% inhibition was observed in VAS4 and 25% in VAS3. The reversal in RNase L inhibition thus reflects closely the resulting RLI level, in keeping with a major role of RLI in EMCV-induced down regulation of 2-5A-binding activity of RNase L. Moreover, cells expressing a low level of RLI (VAS3 and VAS 4) are partially resistant to EMCV infection.