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A temporal gate for viral enhancers to co-opt toll-like-receptor transcriptional activation pathways upon acute infection

Sun, Ren, Kropp, Kai A., Hsieh, Wei Yuan, Isern, Elena, Forster, Thorsten, Krause, Eva, Brune, Wolfram, Angulo, Ana and Ghazal, Peter ORCID: 2015. A temporal gate for viral enhancers to co-opt toll-like-receptor transcriptional activation pathways upon acute infection. PLoS Pathogens 11 (4) , e1004737. 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004737

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Viral engagement with macrophages activates Toll-Like-Receptors (TLRs) and viruses must contend with the ensuing inflammatory responses to successfully complete their replication cycle. To date, known counter-strategies involve the use of viral-encoded proteins that often employ mimicry mechanisms to block or redirect the host response to benefit the virus. Whether viral regulatory DNA sequences provide an opportunistic strategy by which viral enhancer elements functionally mimic innate immune enhancers is unknown. Here we find that host innate immune genes and the prototypical viral enhancer of cytomegalovirus (CMV) have comparable expression kinetics, and positively respond to common TLR agonists. In macrophages but not fibroblasts we show that activation of NFκB at immediate-early times of infection is independent of virion-associated protein, M45. We find upon virus infection or transfection of viral genomic DNA the TLR-agonist treatment results in significant enhancement of the virus transcription-replication cycle. In macrophage time-course infection experiments we demonstrate that TLR-agonist stimulation of the viral enhancer and replication cycle is strictly delimited by a temporal gate with a determined half-maximal time for enhancer-activation of 6 h; after which TLR-activation blocks the viral transcription-replication cycle. By performing a systematic siRNA screen of 149 innate immune regulatory factors we identify not only anticipated anti-viral and pro-viral contributions but also new factors involved in the CMV transcription-replication cycle. We identify a central convergent NFκB-SP1-RXR-IRF axis downstream of TLR-signalling. Activation of the RXR component potentiated direct and indirect TLR-induced activation of CMV transcription-replication cycle; whereas chromatin binding experiments using wild-type and enhancer-deletion virus revealed IRF3 and 5 as new pro-viral host transcription factor interactions with the CMV enhancer in macrophages. In a series of pharmacologic, siRNA and genetic loss-of-function experiments we determined that signalling mediated by the TLR-adaptor protein MyD88 plays a vital role for governing the inflammatory activation of the CMV enhancer in macrophages. Downstream TLR-regulated transcription factor binding motif disruption for NFκB, AP1 and CREB/ATF in the CMV enhancer demonstrated the requirement of these inflammatory signal-regulated elements in driving viral gene expression and growth in cells as well as in primary infection of neonatal mice. Thus, this study shows that the prototypical CMV enhancer, in a restricted time-gated manner, co-opts through DNA regulatory mimicry elements, innate-immune transcription factors to drive viral expression and replication in the face of on-going pro-inflammatory antiviral responses in vitro and in vivo and; suggests an unexpected role for inflammation in promoting acute infection and has important future implications for regulating latency.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1553-7374
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 9 February 2015
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 22:02

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