Host factors that interact with the pestivirus N-terminal protease, Npro, are components of the ribonucleoprotein complex.
The viral N-terminal protease N(pro) of pestiviruses counteracts cellular antiviral defenses through inhibition of IRF3. Here we used mass spectrometry to identify a new role for N(pro) through its interaction with over 55 associated proteins, mainly ribosomal proteins and ribonucleoproteins, including RNA helicase A (DHX9), Y-box binding protein (YBX1), DDX3, DDX5, eIF3, IGF2BP1, multiple myeloma tumor protein 2, interleukin enhancer binding factor 3 (IEBP3), guanine nucleotide binding protein 3, and polyadenylate-binding protein 1 (PABP-1). These are components of the translation machinery, ribonucleoprotein particles (RNPs), and stress granules. Significantly, we found that stress granule formation was inhibited in MDBK cells infected with a noncytopathic bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) strain, Kyle. However, ribonucleoproteins binding to N(pro) did not inhibit these proteins from aggregating into stress granules. N(pro) interacted with YBX1 though its TRASH domain, since the mutant C112R protein with an inactive TRASH domain no longer redistributed to stress granules. Interestingly, RNA helicase A and La autoantigen relocated from a nuclear location to form cytoplasmic granules with N(pro). To address a proviral role for N(pro) in RNP granules, we investigated whether N(pro) affected RNA interference (RNAi), since interacting proteins are involved in RISC function during RNA silencing. Using glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) silencing with small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) followed by Northern blotting of GAPDH, expression of N(pro) had no effect on RNAi silencing activity, contrasting with other viral suppressors of interferon. We propose that N(pro) is involved with virus RNA translation in the cytoplasm for virus particle production, and when translation is inhibited following stress, it redistributes to the replication complex.