Journal of virology

Caspase-Dependent Suppression of Type I Interferon Signaling Promotes Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Lytic Replication.

PMID 29514903


An important component of lytic infection by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the ability of the virus to evade the innate immune response, specifically type I interferon (IFN) responses that are triggered by recognition of viral nucleic acids. Inhibition of type I IFN responses by the virus promotes viral replication. Here, we report that KSHV uses a caspase-dependent mechanism to block type I IFN, in particular IFN-β, responses during lytic infection. Inhibition of caspases during KSHV reactivation resulted in increased TBK1/IKKε-dependent phosphorylation of IRF3 as well as elevated levels of IFN-β transcription and secretion. The increased secretion of IFN-β upon caspase inhibition reduced viral gene expression, viral DNA replication, and virus production. Blocking IFN-β production or signaling restored viral replication. Overall, our results show that caspase-mediated regulation of pathogen sensing machinery is an important mechanism exploited by KSHV to evade innate immune responses.IMPORTANCE KSHV is the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), an AIDS-defining tumor that is one of the most common causes of cancer death in sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, we examined the role of a set of cellular proteases, called caspases, in the regulation of immune responses during KSHV infection. We demonstrate that caspases prevent the induction and secretion of the antiviral factor IFN-β during replicative KSHV infection. The reduced IFN-β production allows for high viral gene expression and viral replication. Therefore, caspases are important for maintaining KSHV replication. Overall, our results suggest that KSHV utilizes caspases to evade innate immune responses, and that inhibiting caspases could boost the innate immune response to this pathogen and potentially be a new antiviral strategy.