Viruses 2017 05 12;9(5). Epub 2017 May 12.
Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network, 67 College Street, Toronto, ON M5G 2M1, Canada.
The non-structural protein, NS1, is a virulence factor encoded by influenza A viruses (IAVs). In this report, we provide evidence that the conserved residue, tyrosine (Y) 84, in a conserved putative SH2-binding domain in A/Duck/Hubei/2004/L-1 [H5N1] NS1 is critical for limiting an interferon (IFN) response to infection. A phenylalanine (F) substitution of this Y84 residue abolishes NS1-mediated downregulation of IFN-inducible STAT phosphorylation, and surface IFNAR1 expression. Recombinant IAV (rIAV) [H1N1] expressing A/Grey Heron/Hong Kong/837/2004 [H5N1] NS1-Y84F (rWSN-GH-NS1-Y84F) replicates to lower titers in human lung epithelial cells and is more susceptible to the antiviral effects of IFN-β treatment compared with rIAV expressing the intact H5N1 NS1 (rWSN-GH-NS1-wt). Cells infected with rWSN-GH-NS1-Y84F express higher levels of IFN stimulated genes (ISGs) associated with an antiviral response compared with cells infected with rWSN-GH-NS1-wt. In mice, intranasal infection with rWSN-GH-NS1-Y84F resulted in a delay in onset of weight loss, reduced lung pathology, lower lung viral titers and higher ISG expression, compared with mice infected with rWSN-GH-NS1-wt. IFN-β treatment of mice infected with rWSN-GH-NS1-Y84F reduced lung viral titers and increased lung ISG expression, but did not alter viral titers and ISG expression in mice infected with rWSN-GH-NS1-wt. Viewed altogether, these data suggest that the virulence associated with this conserved Y84 residue in NS1 is, in part, due to its role in regulating the host IFN response.