Host-Specific NS5 Ubiquitination Determines Yellow Fever Virus Tropism.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00151-19
The recent yellow fever virus (YFV) epidemic in Brazil in 2017 and Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic in 2015 serve to remind us of the importance of flaviviruses as emerging human pathogens. With the current global flavivirus threat, there is an urgent need for antivirals and vaccines to curb the spread of these viruses. However, the lack of suitable animal models limits the research questions that can be answered. A common trait of all flaviviruses studied thus far is their ability to antagonize interferon (IFN) signaling so as to enhance viral replication and dissemination. Previously, we reported that YFV NS5 requires the presence of type I IFN (IFN-α/β) for its engagement with human signal transducer and activator of transcription 2 (hSTAT2). In this manuscript, we report that like the NS5 proteins of ZIKV and dengue virus (DENV), YFV NS5 protein is able to bind hSTAT2 but not murine STAT2 (mSTAT2). Contrary to what has been demonstrated with ZIKV NS5 and DENV NS5, replacing mSTAT2 with hSTAT2 cannot rescue the YFV NS5-STAT2 interaction, as YFV NS5 is also unable to interact with hSTAT2 in murine cells. We show that the IFN-α/β-dependent ubiquitination of YFV NS5 that is required for STAT2 binding in human cells is absent in murine cells. In addition, we demonstrate that mSTAT2 restricts YFV replication in vivo These data serve as further impetus for the development of an immunocompetent mouse model that can serve as a disease model for multiple flaviviruses.IMPORTANCE Flaviviruses such as yellow fever virus (YFV), Zika virus (ZIKV), and dengue virus (DENV) are important human pathogens. A common flavivirus trait is the antagonism of interferon (IFN) signaling to enhance viral replication and spread. We report that like ZIKV NS5 and DENV NS5, YFV NS5 binds human STAT2 (hSTAT2) but not mouse STAT2 (mSTAT2), a type I IFN (IFN-α/β) pathway component. Additionally, we show that contrary to what has been demonstrated with ZIKV NS5 and DENV NS5, YFV NS5 is unable to interact with hSTAT2 in murine cells. We demonstrate that mSTAT2 restricts YFV replication in mice and that this correlates with a lack of IFN-α/β-induced YFV NS5 ubiquitination in murine cells. The lack of suitable animal models limits flavivirus pathogenesis, vaccine, and drug research. These data serve as further impetus for the development of an immunocompetent mouse model that can serve as a disease model for multiple flaviviruses.