Flaviviruses continue to emerge as global health threats. There are currently no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved antiviral treatments for flaviviral infections. Therefore, there is a pressing need to identify host and viral factors that can be targeted for effective therapeutic intervention. Type I interferon (IFN-I) production in response to microbial products is one of the host’s first line of defense against invading pathogens. Cytidine/uridine monophosphate kinase 2 (CMPK2) is a type I interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) that exerts antiviral effects. However, the molecular mechanism by which CMPK2 inhibits viral replication is unclear. Here, we report that CMPK2 expression restricts Zika virus (ZIKV) replication by specifically inhibiting viral translation and that IFN-I- induced CMPK2 contributes significantly to the overall antiviral response against ZIKV. We demonstrate that expression of CMPK2 results in a significant decrease in the replication of other pathogenic flaviviruses including dengue virus (DENV-2), Kunjin virus (KUNV) and yellow fever virus (YFV). Importantly, we determine that the N-terminal domain (NTD) of CMPK2, which lacks kinase activity, is sufficient to restrict viral translation. Thus, its kinase function is not required for CMPK2’s antiviral activity. Furthermore, we identify seven conserved cysteine residues within the NTD as critical for CMPK2 antiviral activity. Thus, these residues may form an unknown functional site in the NTD of CMPK2 contributing to its antiviral function. Finally, we show that mitochondrial localization of CMPK2 is required for its antiviral effects. Given its broad antiviral activity against flaviviruses, CMPK2 is a promising potential pan-flavivirus inhibitor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology