Research ArticleVirulence

Attenuation of Rabies Virulence: Takeover by the Cytoplasmic Domain of Its Envelope Protein

Sci. Signal.  19 Jan 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 105, pp. ra5
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2000510

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Abstract

The capacity of a rabies virus to promote neuronal survival (a signature of virulence) or death (a marker of attenuation) depends on the cellular partners recruited by the PDZ-binding site (PDZ-BS) of its envelope glycoprotein (G). Neuronal survival requires the selective association of the PDZ-BS of G with the PDZ domains of two closely related serine-threonine kinases, MAST1 and MAST2. Here, we found that a single amino acid change in the PDZ-BS triggered the apoptotic death of infected neurons and enabled G to interact with additional PDZ partners, in particular the tyrosine phosphatase PTPN4. Knockdown of PTPN4 abrogated virus-mediated apoptosis. Thus, we propose that attenuation of rabies virus requires expansion of the set of host PDZ proteins with which G interacts, which interferes with the finely tuned homeostasis required for survival of the infected neuron.

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