A Pseudorabies Virus Serine/Threonine Kinase, US3, Promotes Retrograde Transport in Axons via Akt/mToRC1

Date Published:

2022 Jan 05




Infection of peripheral axons by alpha herpesviruses (AHVs) is a critical stage in establishing a life-long infection in the host. Upon entering the cytoplasm of axons, AHV nucleocapsids and associated inner-tegument proteins must engage the cellular retrograde transport machinery to promote the long-distance movement of virion components to the nucleus. The current model outlining this process is incomplete and further investigation is required to discover all viral and cellular determinants involved as well as the temporality of the events. Using a modified tri-chamber system, we have discovered a novel role of the pseudorabies virus (PRV) serine/threonine kinase, US3, in promoting efficient retrograde transport of nucleocapsids. We discovered that transporting nucleocapsids move at similar velocities both in the presence and absence of a functional US3 kinase; however fewer nucleocapsids are moving when US3 is absent and move for shorter periods of time before stopping, suggesting US3 is required for efficient nucleocapsid engagement with the retrograde transport machinery. This led to fewer nucleocapsids reaching the cell bodies to produce a productive infection 12hr later. Furthermore, US3 was responsible for the induction of local translation in axons as early as 1hpi through the stimulation of a PI3K/Akt-mToRC1 pathway. These data describe a novel role for US3 in the induction of local translation in axons during AHV infection, a critical step in transport of nucleocapsids to the cell body. Neurons are highly polarized cells with axons that can reach centimeters in length. Communication between axons at the periphery and the distant cell body is a relatively slow process involving the active transport of chemical messengers. There's a need for axons to respond rapidly to extracellular stimuli. Translation of repressed mRNAs present within the axon occurs to enable rapid, localized responses independently of the cell body. AHVs have evolved a way to hijack local translation in the axons to promote their transport to the nucleus. We have determined the cellular mechanism and viral components involved in the induction of axonal translation. The US3 serine/threonine kinase of PRV activates Akt-mToRC1 signaling pathways early during infection to promote axonal translation. When US3 is not present, the number of moving nucleocapsids and their processivity are reduced, suggesting that US3 activity is required for efficient engagement of nucleocapsids with the retrograde transport machinery.



Alternate Journal:

J Virol