Mitochondrial lipid raft-like microdomains, experimentally also termed mitochondrial detergent-resistant membrane fractions (mDRM), play a role as platforms for recruiting signaling molecules involved in antiviral responses such as apoptosis and innate immunity. Viruses can modulate mitochondrial functions for their own survival and replication. However, viral regulation of the antiviral responses via mDRM remains incompletely understood. Here, we report that human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) gene product viral interferon regulatory factor 1 (vIRF-1) is targeted to mDRM during virus replication and negatively regulates the mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS)-mediated antiviral responses. The N-terminal region of vIRF-1 interacts directly with membrane lipids, including cardiolipin. In addition, a GxRP motif within the N terminus of vIRF-1, conserved in the mDRM-targeting region of mitochondrial proteins, including PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) and MAVS, was found to be important for vIRF-1 association with mitochondria. Furthermore, MAVS, which has the potential to promote vIRF-1 targeting to mDRM possibly by inducing cardiolipin exposure on the outer membrane of mitochondria, interacts with vIRF-1, which, in turn, inhibits MAVS-mediated antiviral signaling. Consistent with these results, vIRF-1 targeting to mDRM contributes to promotion of HHV-8 productive replication and inhibition of associated apoptosis. Combined, our results suggest novel molecular mechanisms for negative-feedback regulation of MAVS by vIRF-1 during virus replication. Successful virus replication is in large part achieved by the ability of viruses to counteract apoptosis and innate immune responses elicited by infection of host cells. Recently, mitochondria have emerged to play a central role in antiviral signaling. In particular, mitochondrial lipid raft-like microdomains appear to function as platforms in cell apoptosis signaling. However, viral regulation of antiviral signaling through the mitochondrial microdomains remains incompletely understood. The present study demonstrates that HHV-8-encoded vIRF-1 targets to the mitochondrial detergent-resistant microdomains via direct interaction with cardiolipin and inhibits MAVS protein-mediated apoptosis and type I interferon gene expression in a negative-feedback manner, thus promoting HHV-8 productive replication. These results suggest that vIRF-1 is the first example of a viral protein to inhibit mitochondrial antiviral signaling through lipid raft-like microdomains.
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