Viperin restricts Zika virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus replication by targeting NS3 for proteasomal degradation

Christakis Panayiotou, Richard Lindqvist, Chaitanya Kurhade, Kirstin Vonderstein, Jenny Pasto, Karin Edlund, Arunkumar S. Upadhyay, Anna K. Överby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Flaviviruses are arthropod-borne viruses that constitute a major global health problem, with millions of human infections annually. Their pathogenesis ranges from mild illness to severe manifestations such as hemorrhagic fever and fatal encephalitis. Type I interferons (IFNs) are induced in response to viral infection and stimulate the expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), including that encoding viperin (virusinhibitory protein, endoplasmic reticulum associated, IFN inducible), which shows antiviral activity against a broad spectrum of viruses, including several flaviviruses. Here we describe a novel antiviral mechanism employed by viperin against two prominent flaviviruses, tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and Zika virus (ZIKV). Viperin was found to interact and colocalize with the structural proteins premembrane (prM) and envelope (E) of TBEV, as well as with nonstructural (NS) proteins NS2A, NS2B, and NS3. Interestingly, viperin expression reduced the NS3 protein level, and the stability of the other interacting viral proteins, but only in the presence of NS3. We also found that although viperin interacted with NS3 of mosquito-borne flaviviruses (ZIKV, Japanese encephalitis virus, and yellow fever virus), only ZIKV was sensitive to the antiviral effect of viperin. This sensitivity correlated with viperin's ability to induce proteasome-dependent degradation of NS3. ZIKV and TBEV replication was rescued completely when NS3 was overexpressed, suggesting that the viral NS3 is the specific target of viperin. In summary, we present here a novel antiviral mechanism of viperin that is selective for specific viruses in the genus Flavivirus, affording the possible availability of new drug targets that can be used for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02054-17
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Flavivirus
  • ISG
  • Interferons
  • NS3
  • Proteasomal degradation
  • Viperin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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