Xiang Zhao, Li-Li An, Xiu-Ying Gong, Cheng Dan, Zi-Ling Qu, Hao-Yu Sun, Wen-Hao Guo, Jian-Fang Gui, Yi-Bing Zhang

A zebrafish NLRX1 isoform downregulates fish IFN responses by targeting the adaptor STING

  • Virology
  • Insect Science
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology

ABSTRACT In mammals, NLRX1 is a unique member of the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat (NLR) family showing an ability to negatively regulate IFN antiviral immunity. Intron-containing genes, including NLRX1, have more than one transcript due to alternative splicing; however, little is known about the function of its splicing variants. Here, we identified a transcript variant of NLRX1 in zebrafish (Danio rerio), termed NLRX1-tv4, as a negative regulator of fish IFN response. Zebrafish NLRX1-tv4 was slightly induced by viral infection, with an expression pattern similar to the full-length NLRX1. Despite the lack of an N-terminal domain that exists in the full-length NLRX1, overexpression of NLRX1-tv4 still impaired fish IFN antiviral response and promoted viral replication in fish cells, similar to the full-length NLRX1. Mechanistically, NLRX1-tv4 targeted STING for proteasome-dependent protein degradation by recruiting an E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF5 to drive the K48-linked ubiquitination, eventually downregulating the IFN antiviral response. Mapping of NLRX1-tv4 domains showed that its N-terminal and C-terminal regions exhibited a similar potential to inhibit STING-mediated IFN antiviral response. Our findings reveal that like the full-length NLRX1, zebrafish NLRX-tv4 functions as an inhibitor to shape fish IFN antiviral response. IMPORTANCE In this study, we demonstrate that a transcript variant of zebrafish NLRX1, termed NLRX1-tv4, downregulates fish IFN response and promotes virus replication by targeting STING for protein degradation and impairing the interaction of STING and TBK1 and that its N- and C-terminus exhibit a similar inhibitory potential. Our results are helpful in clarifying the current contradictory understanding of structure and function of vertebrate NLRX1s.

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