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Strain-dependent restriction of human cytomegalovirus by zinc finger antiviral proteins

Lista, Maria Jose, Witney, Adam A., Nichols, Jenna, Davison, Andrew J., Wilson, Harry, Latham, Katie A., Ravenhill, Benjamin J., Nightingale, Katie, Stanton, Richard J. ORCID:, Weekes, Michael P., Neil, Stuart J. D., Swanson, Chad M., Strang, Blair L. and Goodrum, Felicia 2023. Strain-dependent restriction of human cytomegalovirus by zinc finger antiviral proteins. Journal of Virology 97 (3) , e01846-22. 10.1128/jvi.01846-22

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Cellular antiviral factors that recognize viral nucleic acid can inhibit virus replication. These include the zinc finger antiviral protein (ZAP), which recognizes high CpG dinucleotide content in viral RNA. Here, we investigated the ability of ZAP to inhibit the replication of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Depletion of ZAP or its cofactor KHNYN increased the titer of the high-passage HCMV strain AD169 but had little effect on the titer of the low-passage strain Merlin. We found no obvious difference in expression of several viral proteins between AD169 and Merlin in ZAP knockdown cells, but observed a larger increase in infectious virus in AD169 compared to Merlin in the absence of ZAP, suggesting that ZAP inhibited events late in AD169 replication. In addition, there was no clear difference in the CpG abundance of AD169 and Merlin RNAs, indicating that genomic content of the two virus strains was unlikely to be responsible for differences in their sensitivity to ZAP. Instead, we observed less ZAP expression in Merlin-infected cells late in replication compared to AD169-infected cells, which may be related to different abilities of the two virus strains to regulate interferon signaling. Therefore, there are strain-dependent differences in the sensitivity of HCMV to ZAP, and the ability of low-passage HCMV strain Merlin to evade inhibition by ZAP is likely related to its ability to regulate interferon signaling, not the CpG content of RNAs produced from its genome.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Systems Immunity Research Institute (SIURI)
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
ISSN: 0022-538X
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 16 February 2023
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 15:06

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