Regulation of enterovirus 2A protease-associated viral IRES activities by the cell's ERK signaling cascade: Implicating ERK as an efficiently antiviral target

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In a previous study the ERK1/2 pathway was found to be crucially involved in positive regulation of the enterovirus A 71(EV-A71) IRES (vIRES), thereby contributing to the efficient replication of an important human enterovirus causing death in young children (<5yrs) worldwide. This study focuses on unraveling more about the detailed mechanism of ERK's involvement in this regulation of vIRES. Through the use of siRNAs and specifically pharmacological inhibitor U0126, the ERK cascade was shown to positively regulate EV-A71-mediated cleavage of eIF4GI that established the cellular conditions which favour vIRES-dependent translation. Site-directed mutagenesis of the viral 2A protease (2Apro) was undertaken to show that the positive regulation of virus replication by the ERK cascade was mediated through effects on both the cis-cleavage of the viral polyprotein by 2Apro and its trans-cleavage of cellular eIF4GI. This ERK-2Apro linked network coordinating vIRES efficiency was also found in other important human enteroviruses. This identification of the ERK cascade as having a key role in maintaining the 2Apro proteolytic activity required to maximize enterovirus IRES activity, expands current understanding of the diverse functions of the ERK signaling cascade in the regulation of viral translation, therefore providing a potentially comprehensive drug target for anti-enterovirus infection.HighlightsOur data show that the ERK cascade is required for Enterovirus replication via favoring viral IRES activity.ERK cascade has a key role maintaining 2A proteolytic activity for maximizing enterovirus IRES activity.The multi-functions of ERK in viral replication provide an excellent target for anti-enterovirus infection.

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