Viral targeting of DEAD box protein 3 reveals its role in TBK1/IKKepsilon-mediated IRF activation.
Viruses are detected by different classes of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), such as Toll-like receptors and RIG-like helicases. Engagement of PRRs leads to activation of interferon (IFN)-regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) and IRF7 through IKKepsilon and TBK1 and consequently IFN-beta induction. Vaccinia virus (VACV) encodes proteins that manipulate host signalling, sometimes by targeting uncharacterised proteins. Here, we describe a novel VACV protein, K7, which can inhibit PRR-induced IFN-beta induction by preventing TBK1/IKKepsilon-mediated IRF activation. We identified DEAD box protein 3 (DDX3) as a host target of K7. Expression of DDX3 enhanced Ifnb promoter induction by TBK1/IKKepsilon, whereas knockdown of DDX3 inhibited this, and virus- or dsRNA-induced IRF3 activation. Further, dominant-negative DDX3 inhibited virus-, dsRNA- and cytosolic DNA-stimulated Ccl5 promoter induction, which is also TBK1/IKKepsilon dependent. Both K7 binding and enhancement of Ifnb induction mapped to the N-terminus of DDX3. Furthermore, virus infection induced an association between DDX3 and IKKepsilon. Therefore, this study shows for the first time the involvement of a DEAD box helicase in TBK1/IKKepsilon-mediated IRF activation and Ifnb promoter induction.