Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

HSV-2 immediate-early protein US1 inhibits IFN-β production by suppressing association of IRF-3 with IFN-β promoter.

PMID 25712217


HSV-2 is the major cause of genital herpes, and its infection increases the risk of HIV-1 acquisition and transmission. After initial infection, HSV-2 can establish latency within the nervous system and thus maintains lifelong infection in humans. It has been suggested that HSV-2 can inhibit type I IFN signaling, but the underlying mechanism has yet to be determined. In this study, we demonstrate that productive HSV-2 infection suppresses Sendai virus (SeV) or polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid-induced IFN-β production. We further reveal that US1, an immediate-early protein of HSV-2, contributes to such suppression, showing that US1 inhibits IFN-β promoter activity and IFN-β production at both mRNA and protein levels, whereas US1 knockout significantly impairs such capability in the context of HSV-2 infection. US1 directly interacts with DNA binding domain of IRF-3, and such interaction suppresses the association of nuclear IRF-3 with the IRF-3 responsive domain of IFN-β promoter, resulting in the suppression of IFN-β promoter activation. Additional studies demonstrate that the 217-414 aa domain of US1 is critical for the suppression of IFN-β production. Our results indicate that HSV-2 US1 downmodulates IFN-β production by suppressing the association of IRF-3 with the IRF-3 responsive domain of IFN-β promoter. Our findings highlight the significance of HSV-2 US1 in inhibiting IFN-β production and provide insights into the molecular mechanism by which HSV-2 evades the host innate immunity, representing an unconventional strategy exploited by a dsDNA virus to interrupt type I IFN signaling pathway.