A parapoxviral virion protein targets the retinoblastoma protein to inhibit NF-κB signaling

Ponnuraj Nagendraprabhu, Sushil Khatiwada, Sabal Chaulagain, Gustavo Delhon, Daniel L. Rock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poxviruses have evolved multiple strategies to subvert signaling by Nuclear Factor κB (NF-κB), a crucial regulator of host innate immune responses. Here, we describe an orf virus (ORFV) virion-associated protein, ORFV119, which inhibits NF-κB signaling very early in infection (≤ 30 min post infection). ORFV119 NF-κB inhibitory activity was found unimpaired upon translation inhibition, suggesting that virion ORFV119 alone is responsible for early interference in signaling. A C-terminal LxCxE motif in ORFV119 enabled the protein to interact with the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) a multifunctional protein best known for its tumor suppressor activity. Notably, experiments using a recombinant virus containing an ORFV119 mutation which abrogates its interaction with pRb together with experiments performed in cells lacking or with reduced pRb levels indicate that ORFV119 mediated inhibition of NF-κB signaling is largely pRb dependent. ORFV119 was shown to inhibit IKK complex activation early in infection. Consistent with IKK inhibition, ORFV119 also interacted with TNF receptor associated factor 2 (TRAF2), an adaptor protein recruited to signaling complexes upstream of IKK in infected cells. ORFV119-TRAF2 interaction was enhanced in the presence of pRb, suggesting that ORFV119-pRb complex is required for efficient interaction with TRAF2. Additionally, transient expression of ORFV119 in uninfected cells was sufficient to inhibit TNFα-induced IKK activation and NF-κB signaling, indicating that no other viral proteins are required for the effect. Infection of sheep with ORFV lacking the ORFV119 gene led to attenuated disease phenotype, indicating that ORFV119 contributes to virulence in the natural host. ORFV119 represents the first poxviral protein to interfere with NF-κB signaling through interaction with pRb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1006779
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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