Cryptic proteins translated from deletion-containing viral genomes dramatically expand the influenza virus proteome

Jordan N Ranum, Mitchell P Ledwith, Fadi G Alnaji, Meghan Diefenbacher, Richard Orton, Elizabeth Sloan, Melissa Güereca, Elizabeth M Feltman, Katherine Smollett, Ana da Silva Filipe, Michaela Conley, Alistair B Russell, Christopher B Brooke, Edward Hutchinson, Andrew Mehle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Productive infections by RNA viruses require faithful replication of the entire genome. Yet many RNA viruses also produce deletion-containing viral genomes (DelVGs), aberrant replication products with large internal deletions. DelVGs interfere with the replication of wild-type virus and their presence in patients is associated with better clinical outcomes. The DelVG RNA itself is hypothesized to confer this interfering activity. DelVGs antagonize replication by out-competing the full-length genome and triggering innate immune responses. Here, we identify an additionally inhibitory mechanism mediated by a new class of viral proteins encoded by DelVGs. We identified hundreds of cryptic viral proteins translated from DelVGs. These DelVG-encoded proteins (DPRs) include canonical viral proteins with large internal deletions, as well as proteins with novel C-termini translated from alternative reading frames. Many DPRs retain functional domains shared with their full-length counterparts, suggesting they may have activity during infection. Mechanistic studies of DPRs derived from the influenza virus protein PB2 showed that they poison replication of wild-type virus by acting as dominant-negative inhibitors of the viral polymerase. These findings reveal that DelVGs have a dual inhibitory mechanism, acting at both the RNA and protein level. They further show that DPRs have the potential to dramatically expand the functional proteomes of diverse RNA viruses.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbergkae133
Pages (from-to)3199-3212
Number of pages14
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number6
Early online dateFeb 26 2024
StatePublished - Apr 12 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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