Journal of virology

A Kinome-Wide Small Interfering RNA Screen Identifies Proviral and Antiviral Host Factors in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Replication, Including Double-Stranded RNA-Activated Protein Kinase and Early Secretory Pathway Proteins.

PMID 26041291


To identify host factors relevant for severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) replication, we performed a small interfering RNA (siRNA) library screen targeting the human kinome. Protein kinases are key regulators of many cellular functions, and the systematic knockdown of their expression should provide a broad perspective on factors and pathways promoting or antagonizing coronavirus replication. In addition to 40 proteins that promote SARS-CoV replication, our study identified 90 factors exhibiting an antiviral effect. Pathway analysis grouped subsets of these factors in specific cellular processes, including the innate immune response and the metabolism of complex lipids, which appear to play a role in SARS-CoV infection. Several factors were selected for in-depth validation in follow-up experiments. In cells depleted for the β2 subunit of the coatomer protein complex (COPB2), the strongest proviral hit, we observed reduced SARS-CoV protein expression and a >2-log reduction in virus yield. Knockdown of the COPB2-related proteins COPB1 and Golgi-specific brefeldin A-resistant guanine nucleotide exchange factor 1 (GBF1) also suggested that COPI-coated vesicles and/or the early secretory pathway are important for SARS-CoV replication. Depletion of the antiviral double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) enhanced virus replication in the primary screen, and validation experiments confirmed increased SARS-CoV protein expression and virus production upon PKR depletion. In addition, cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6) was identified as a novel antiviral host factor in SARS-CoV replication. The inventory of pro- and antiviral host factors and pathways described here substantiates and expands our understanding of SARS-CoV replication and may contribute to the identification of novel targets for antiviral therapy. Replication of all viruses, including SARS-CoV, depends on and is influenced by cellular pathways. Although substantial progress has been made in dissecting the coronavirus replicative cycle, our understanding of the host factors that stimulate (proviral factors) or restrict (antiviral factors) infection remains far from complete. To study the role of host proteins in SARS-CoV infection, we set out to systematically identify kinase-regulated processes that influence virus replication. Protein kinases are key regulators in signal transduction, controlling a wide variety of cellular processes, and many of them are targets of approved drugs and other compounds. Our screen identified a variety of hits and will form the basis for more detailed follow-up studies that should contribute to a better understanding of SARS-CoV replication and coronavirus-host interactions in general. The identified factors could be interesting targets for the development of host-directed antiviral therapy to treat infections with SARS-CoV or other pathogenic coronaviruses.

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