Viral interference with host mRNA surveillance, the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway, through a new function of HTLV-1 Rex: implications for retroviral replication

Kazumi Nakano, Tomomi Ando, Makoto Yamagishi, Koichi Yokoyama, Takaomi Ishida, Takeo Ohsugi, Yuetsu Tanaka, David W. Brighty, Toshiki Watanabe

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is an essential and conserved cellular mRNA quality control mechanism. RNA signals to express viral genes from overlapping open reading frames potentially initiate NMD, nevertheless it is not clear whether viral RNAs are sensitive to NMD or if viruses have evolved mechanisms to evade NMD. Here we demonstrate that the genomic and full-length mRNAs of Human-T-cell Leukemia Virus type-I (HTLV-1), a retrovirus responsible for Adult T-cell Leukemia (ATL), are sensitive to NMD. They exhibit accelerated turnover in NMD-activated cells, while siRNA-mediated knockdown of NMD-master-regulator, UPF1, promotes enhanced stability of them. These effects on RNA stability were recapitulated by a reporter construct encoding the HTLV-1 translational frameshift signal of gag-pol. In agreement with the RNA stability, viral protein expression from the integrated provirus was inversely correlated with cellular NMD activity. We further demonstrated that the viral RNA-binding protein, Rex, approves the stability of viral RNA by inhibiting NMD. Significantly, Rex establishes a general block to NMD, as both NMD-responsive reporter transcripts and natural host-encoded NMD substrates were stabilized in the presence of Rex. Thus, we suggest that Rex not only stabilizes viral transcripts, but also perturbs cellular mRNA metabolism and host cell homeostasis via inhibition of NMD. (c) 2013 Institut Pasteur. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)491-505
    Number of pages15
    JournalMicrobes and Infection
    Issue number6-7
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


    • UPF1
    • NMD
    • Retroviral genomic RNA
    • GENE
    • TYPE-1
    • Host-pathogen interaction
    • HTLV-1
    • HTLV-1 Rex
    • P-BODIES

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