Viral infections of all kinds continue to represent major public health challenges and demand new therapeutic strategies. Viperin (virus-inhibitory protein, endoplasmic reticulum associated, interferon (IFN) inducible), a member of the radical S-adenosylmethionine (RS) superfamily of enzymes, is an interferon inducible protein that inhibits the replication of a remarkable range of viruses, including Chikungunya virus, Bunyamwera virus, Tick-born encephalitis virus, influenza A virus, human cytomegalovirus, West Nile virus, hepatitis C virus, sindbis virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, HIV and numerous other DNA and RNA viruses. Viperin has been suggested to elicit these far-reaching antiviral activities through interaction or co-localization with a large number of functionally unrelated host and viral proteins. All of these interactions are based on indirect methods (e.g., yeast-two-hybrid and immunoprecipitation), and none have been validated by direct biochemical approaches. The mechanisms underlying viperin?s sweeping antiviral activity remain enigmatic and it is unclear how a single protein (i.e., viperin) can participate in such a broad playlist of interactions to inhibit this wide array of viruses. Instead, we favor a more general mechanistic explanation for these antiviral activities; one that involves a viperin-mediated enzymatic transformation that modulates specific cellular processes common to all of these viruses. We demonstrate that, contrary to all previous work, viperin converts cytidine triphosphate (CTP) to a novel CTP-related triphosphate via an S-adenosylmethionine (SAM)-dependent radical mechanism analogous to other members of the RS superfamily. The in vivo function of this new molecules remains to be defined; but may include 1) selective ?poisoning? of viral RNA and DNA polymerases, 2) modulation/inhibition of cytidylyl transferases, which use CTP as a substrate, and are required for lipid biosynthesis (e.g., phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylcholine) and 3) a role as a novel signaling molecule. All of these possibilities would provide a unified mechanism for viperin antiviral function, as each proposed mechanism relies on the radical-based enzymatic properties of viperin to modulate fundamental processes (replication, membrane dynamics and signaling) critical to all viral species.
Our Specific Aims are:
Aim 1 : Unambiguously define the structure of the new CTP-derived molecule and the mechanistic details of its production.
Aim 2 : Determine the in vivo role of the CTP-derived molecule.
Aim 3 : Determine the X-ray structures of viperin alone, with substrate and with product.
The proposed work provides the opportunity to discover a novel compound with very broad-spectrum antiviral activity against a wide range of viruses, including influenza virus, human cytomegalovirus, West Nile virus, hepatitis C virus, and HIV. This compound would afford a novel antiviral strategy and would have enormous biomedical impact.