Mutation of the Theiler’s virus leader protein zinc-finger domain impairs apoptotic activity in murine macrophages
Lipton, Howard L.
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The Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) leader (L) protein zinc-finger domain was mutated to study its role in cell death in infection of the murine macrophage cell line M1-D, revealing that an intact zinc-finger domain is required for full apoptotic activity. A functional L zinc-finger domain was also required for activation of p38 MAPK that results in phosphorylation and activation of p53, and in turn, alteration of the conformation of the anti-apoptotic proteins Puma and Mcl-1, leading to the release of pro-apoptotic Bax and apoptosis through the intrinsic pathway. TMEV infection also inhibits host protein synthesis, a stress shown by others to induce apoptosis. Since inhibition of host protein synthesis follows rather than precedes activation of MKK3/6 and p38, it seems less likely that it triggers of apoptosis in infected cells. Finally, we showed that the levels of reactive oxygen species following infection were consistent with apoptotic rather than necrotic cell death. Thus, these experiments support an important role for the TMEV L protein zinc-finger domain in apoptosis in an infected murine macrophage line.