Indexed on: 24 Jul '13Published on: 24 Jul '13Published in: PNAS
Efficient and productive virus infection often requires viral countermeasures that block innate immunity. The IFN-inducible 2',5'-oligoadenylate (2-5A) synthetases (OASs) and ribonuclease (RNase) L are components of a potent host antiviral pathway. We previously showed that murine coronavirus (MHV) accessory protein ns2, a 2H phosphoesterase superfamily member, is a phosphodiesterase (PDE) that cleaves 2-5A, thereby preventing activation of RNase L. The PDE activity of ns2 is required for MHV replication in macrophages and for hepatitis. Here, we show that group A rotavirus (RVA), an important cause of acute gastroenteritis in children worldwide, encodes a similar PDE. The RVA PDE forms the carboxy-terminal domain of the minor core protein VP3 (VP3-CTD) and shares sequence and predicted structural homology with ns2, including two catalytic HxT/S motifs. Bacterially expressed VP3-CTD exhibited 2',5'-PDE activity, which cleaved 2-5A in vitro. In addition, VP3-CTD expressed transiently in mammalian cells depleted 2-5A levels induced by OAS activation with poly(rI):poly(rC), preventing RNase L activation. In the context of recombinant chimeric MHV expressing inactive ns2, VP3-CTD restored the ability of the virus to replicate efficiently in macrophages or in the livers of infected mice, whereas mutant viruses expressing inactive VP3-CTD (H718A or H798R) were attenuated. In addition, chimeric viruses expressing either active ns2 or VP3-CTD, but not nonfunctional equivalents, were able to protect ribosomal RNA from RNase L-mediated degradation. Thus, VP3-CTD is a 2',5'-PDE able to functionally substitute for ns2 in MHV infection. Remarkably, therefore, two disparate RNA viruses encode proteins with homologous 2',5'-PDEs that antagonize activation of innate immunity.