Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a leading cause of lower respiratory tract infection in young children worldwide. The RSV nonstructural protein 2 (NS2) is a multifunctional protein that primarily acts to antagonize the innate immune system by targeting STAT2 for proteasomal degradation. We investigated the structural determinants of NS2 important for interaction with the host ubiquitin system to degrade STAT2 during infection. We found that NS2 expression enhances ubiquitination of host proteins. Bioinformatics analysis provided a platform for identification of specific residues that limit NS2-induced ubiquitination. Combinations of multiple mutations displayed an additive effect on reducing NS2-induced ubiquitination. Using a reverse genetics system, we generated recombinant RSV (rRSV) containing NS2 ubiquitin mutations, which maintained their effect on ubiquitin expression during infection. Interestingly, STAT2 degradation activity was ablated in the NS2 ubiquitin mutant rRSV. In addition, NS2 ubiquitin mutations decreased rRSV replication, indicating a correlation between NS2's ubiquitin function and antagonism of innate immune signaling to enhance viral replication. Our approach of targeting NS2 residues required for NS2 inhibition of immune responses provides a mechanism for attenuating RSV for vaccine development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science