Novel function of Bleutongue Virus NS3 Protein in Regulation of the MAPK/ERK Signaling Pathway

Kundlacz, Cindy; Pourcelot, Marie; Fablet, Aurore; Amaral Da Silva Moraes, Rayane; Leger, Thibaut; Morlet, Bastien; Viarouge, Cyril; Sailleau, C.; Turpaud, Mathilde; Gorlier, Axel; Breard, Emmanuel; Lecollinet, S.; Rijn, P.A. van; Zientara, Stephan; Vitour, Damien; Caignard, Gregory


Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an arbovirus transmitted by blood-feeding midges to a wide range of wild and domestic ruminants. In this report, we showed that BTV, through its nonstructural protein NS3 (BTV-NS3), is able to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) pathway, as assessed by phosphorylation levels of ERK1/2 and the translation initiation factor eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E). By combining immunoprecipitation of BTV-NS3 and mass spectrometry analysis from both BTV-infected and NS3-transfected cells, we identified the serine/threonine-protein kinase B-Raf (BRAF), a crucial player in the MAPK/ERK pathway, as a new cellular interactor of BTV-NS3. BRAF silencing led to a significant decrease in the MAPK/ERK activation by BTV, supporting a model wherein BTV-NS3 interacts with BRAF to activate this signaling cascade. This positive regulation acts independently of the role of BTV-NS3 in counteracting the induction of the alpha/beta interferon response. Furthermore, the intrinsic ability of BTV-NS3 to bind BRAF and activate the MAPK/ERK pathway is conserved throughout multiple serotypes/strains but appears to be specific to BTV compared to other members of Orbivirus genus. Inhibition of MAPK/ERK pathway with U0126 reduced viral titers, suggesting that BTV manipulates this pathway for its own replication. Altogether, our data provide molecular mechanisms that unravel a new essential function of NS3 during BTV infection.