Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) require helper-virus functions from larger DNA viruses for efficient replication. Although the five adenovirus (Ad) helper functions necessary for AAV replication were identified years ago, details of their role in AAV infection are incomplete. Our recent analysis revealed a surprising complexity in the roles that the Ad helper functions play during AAV replication. Ad E4Orf6 was known to function at an early rate-limiting step in AAV second-strand synthesis. Our closer examination revealed that AAV hijacks the Ad E4Orf6/E1B 55kDa E3 ubiquitin ligase complex for its use;it efficiently targets both an enabler of an inhibitor of AAV replication as well as, surprisingly, AAV proteins themselves. Our finding that Ad VA RNA mutants that could no longer inactivate the dsRNA- activated protein kinase R (PKR) could not support AAV replication led to our discovery of an element within the AAV capsid coding mRNA that binds and activates PKR. This was the first PKR-activating element described within an mRNA generated by a DNA virus. Further, our studies demonstrated that AAV engages the host antiviral response, which had not previously been shown for any parvovirus. This application builds on these observations. Our specific objectives are to understand how the Ad E3 Ub-ligase (Specific Aim I) and Ad VA RNA (Specific Aim II) function during AAV/Ad co-infection. However, in addition to helping solve the long standing issue of how helper-functions facilitate AAV replication, our studies will help explain how sharing a viral E3 ubiquitin-ligase can help optimize the symbiosis of two co-infecting DNA viruses, and how a novel PKR- activating element within an mRNA of a DNA virus might function, engage the host antiviral response, and perhaps govern a switch from viral latency in the absence of helper to expression and lytic replication in its presence. Studies in this last area should also shed light on basic differences between the autonomous and helper-requiring groups of parvoviruses, and also help improve recombinant AAV vector production.
Parvoviruses are small (20nm) non-enveloped icosahedral viruses that infect and cause disease in many vertebrate hosts. They are also highly attractive vehicles for gene therapy applications. They are unique among all known animal viruses in that they contain single- stranded linear DNA genomes. Some parvoviruses require the help of larger DNA viruses to replicate efficiently. We are characterizing how adenovirus gene products facilitate the replication of the parvovirus adeno-associated virus. The knowledge gained from our studies will advance our understanding of this important aspect of the life cycle of parvoviruses. In addition, in a more general sense, these studies will help understand how two DNA viruses interact symbiotically, and how parvoviruses engage and interact with the cellular antiviral response.
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