Identification of Restriction Factors by Human Genome-Wide RNA Interference Screening of Viral Host Range Mutants Exemplified by Discovery of SAMD9 and WDR6 as Inhibitors of the Vaccinia Virus K1L-C7L- Mutant.

Paradigms and Technologies
Therapeutic Approaches


UNLABELLED: RNA interference (RNAi) screens intended to identify host factors that restrict virus replication may fail if the virus already counteracts host defense mechanisms. To overcome this limitation, we are investigating the use of viral host range mutants that exhibit impaired replication in nonpermissive cells. A vaccinia virus (VACV) mutant with a deletion of both the C7L and K1L genes, K1L(-)C7L(-), which abrogates replication in human cells at a step prior to late gene expression, was chosen for this strategy. We carried out a human genome-wide small interfering RNA (siRNA) screen in HeLa cells infected with a VACV K1L(-)C7L(-) mutant that expresses the green fluorescent protein regulated by a late promoter. This positive-selection screen had remarkably low background levels and resulted in the identification of a few cellular genes, notably SAMD9 and WDR6, from approximately 20,000 tested that dramatically enhanced green fluorescent protein expression. Replication of the mutant virus was enabled by multiple siRNAs to SAMD9 or WDR6. Moreover, SAMD9 and WDR6 clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/Cas9 knockout HeLa cell lines were permissive for replication of the K1L(-)C7L(-) mutant, in agreement with the siRNA data. Expression of exogenous SAMD9 or interferon regulatory factor 1 restricted replication of the K1L(-)C7L(-) mutant in the SAMD9(-/-) cells. Independent interactions of SAMD9 with the K1 and C7 proteins were suggested by immunoprecipitation. Knockout of WDR6 did not reduce the levels of SAMD9 and interactions of WDR6 with SAMD9, C7, and K1 proteins were not detected, suggesting that these restriction factors act independently but possibly in the same innate defense pathway. IMPORTANCE: The coevolution of microbial pathogens with cells has led to an arms race in which the invader and host continuously struggle to gain the advantage. For this reason, traditional siRNA screens may fail to uncover important immune mechanisms if the pathogens have already developed effective responses. However, host-restricted viral mutants have lost one or more defense genes needed for their replication in nonpermissive cells. By screening human genome libraries of short RNAs that inhibit the expression of individual host genes in nonpermissive cells, we identified SAMD9 and WDR6 as major restriction factors that prevented replication of a vaccinia virus mutant and suggest that host range screening can be generally useful for the investigation of host-pathogen interactions.


Sivan, Gilad; Ormanoglu, Pinar; Buehler, Eugen C; Martin, Scott E; Moss, Bernard;


  • Genetic Testing
  • Genome, Human
  • HeLa Cells
  • Host Specificity
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins/ metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Proteins/ metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • Vaccinia virus/ genetics
  • Vaccinia virus/ immunology
  • Vaccinia virus/ physiology
  • Viral Proteins/ genetics
  • Virus Replication

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