Replication of (+)RNA viruses depends on several co-opted host proteins but is also under the control of cell-intrinsic restriction factors (CIRFs). By using tombusviruses, small model viruses of plants, we dissect the mechanism of inhibition of viral replication by cellular WW-domain-containing proteins, which act as CIRFs. By using fusion proteins between the WW domain and the p33 replication protein, we show that the WW domain inhibits the ability of p33 to bind to the viral RNA and to other p33 and p92 replication proteins leading to inhibition of viral replication in yeast and in a cell extract. Overexpression of WW-domain protein in yeast also leads to reduction of several co-opted host factors in the viral replicase complex (VRC). These host proteins, such as eEF1A, Cdc34 E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, and ESCRT proteins (Bro1p and Vps4p), are known to be involved in VRC assembly. Simultaneous coexpression of proviral cellular factors with WW-domain protein partly neutralizes the inhibitory effect of the WW-domain protein. We propose that cellular WW-domain proteins act as CIRFs and also as regulators of tombusvirus replication by inhibiting the assembly of new membrane-bound VRCs at the late stage of infection. We suggest that tombusviruses could sense the status of the infected cells via the availability of cellular susceptibility factors versus WW-domain proteins for binding to p33 replication protein that ultimately controls the formation of new VRCs. This regulatory mechanism might explain how tombusviruses could adjust the efficiency of RNA replication to the limiting resources of the host cells during infections.

IMPORTANCE: Replication of positive-stranded RNA viruses, which are major pathogens of plants, animals, and humans, is inhibited by several cell-intrinsic restriction factors (CIRFs) in infected cells. We define here the inhibitory roles of the cellular Rsp5 ubiquitin ligase and its WW domain in plant-infecting tombusvirus replication in yeast cells and in vitro using purified components. The WW domain of Rsp5 binds to the viral RNA-binding sites of p33 and p92 replication proteins and blocks the ability of these viral proteins to use the viral RNA for replication. The WW domain also interferes with the interaction (oligomerization) of p33 and p92 that is needed for the assembly of the viral replicase. Moreover, WW domain also inhibits the subversion of several cellular proteins into the viral replicase, which otherwise play proviral roles in replication. Altogether, Rsp5 is a CIRF against a tombusvirus, and it possibly has a regulatory function during viral replication in infected cells.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Virology, v. 89, no. 4, p. 2064-2079.

Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

The copyright holders have granted the permission for posting the article here.

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Funding Information

This research was supported by NIH-NIAID (1R21AI109529).

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