STAT and Janus kinase targeting by human herpesvirus 8 interferon regulatory factor in the suppression of type-I interferon signaling

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Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), also known as Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus, is involved etiologically in AIDS-associated KS, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and multicentric Castleman's disease, in which both viral latent and lytic functions are important. HHV-8 encodes four viral interferon regulatory factors (vIRFs) that are believed to contribute to viral latency (in PEL cells, at least) and/or to productive replication via suppression of cellular antiviral and stress signaling. Here, we identify vIRF-1 interactions with signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) factors 1 and 2, interferon type-I (IFN-I)- stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3) cofactor IRF9, and associated signal transducing Janus kinases JAK1 and TYK2. In naturally infected PEL cells and in iSLK epithelial cells infected experimentally with genetically engineered HHV-8, vIRF-1 depletion or ablation, respectively, led to increased STAT1 and STAT2 activation (phosphorylation) in IFNβ-treated, and untreated, cells during lytic replication and to associated cellular-gene induction. In transfected 293T cells, used for mechanistic studies, suppression by vIRF-1 of IFNβ-induced phospho-STAT1 (pSTAT1) was found to be highly dependent on STAT2, indicating vIRF-1- mediated inhibition and/or dissociation of ISGF3-complexing, resulting in susceptibility of pSTAT1 to inactivating dephosphorylation. Indeed, coprecipitation experiments involving targeted precipitation of ISGF3 components identified suppression of mutual interactions by vIRF-1. In contrast, suppression of IFNβ-induced pSTAT2 was effected by inhibition of TYK2 and its interactions with STAT2 and IFN-I receptor (IFNAR). Our identified vIRF-1 interactions with IFN-signaling mediators STATs 1 and 2, co-interacting ISGF3 component IRF9, and STAT-activating TYK2 and the suppression of IFN signaling via ISGF3, TYK2- STAT2 and TYK2-IFNAR disruption and TYK2 inhibition represent novel mechanisms of vIRF function and HHV-8 evasion from host-cell defenses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1010676
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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