Ebola virus (EBOV) infection blocks cellular production of alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β) and the ability of cells to respond to IFN-α/β or IFN-γ. The EBOV VP35 protein has previously been identified as an EBOV-encoded inhibitor of IFN-α/β production. However, the mechanism by which EBOV infection inhibits responses to IFNs has not previously been defined. Here we demonstrate that the EBOV VP24 protein functions as an inhibitor of IFN-α/β and IFN-γ signaling. Expression of VP24 results in an inhibition of IFN-induced gene expression and an inability of IFNs to induce an antiviral state. The VP24-mediated inhibition of cellular responses to IFNs correlates with the impaired nuclear accumulation of tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT1 (PY-STAT1), a key step in both IFN-α/β and IFN-γ signaling. Consistent with this proposed function for VP24, infection of cells with EBOV also confers a block to the IFN-induced nuclear accumulation of PY-STAT1. Further, VP24 is found to specifically interact with karyopherin α1, the nuclear localization signal receptor for PY-STAT1, but not with karyopherin α2, α3, or α4. Overexpression of VP24 results in a loss of karyopherin α1-PY-STAT1 interaction, indicating that the VP24-karyopherin α1 interaction contributes to the block to IFN signaling. These data suggest that VP24 is likely to be an important virulence determinant that allows EBOV to evade the antiviral effects of IFNs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science