Human DDX3X unwinds Japanese encephalitis and Zika viral 5' terminal regions

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Nelson, Corey R.
Mrozowich, Tyler
Gemmill, Darren L.
Park, Sean M.
Patel, Trushar R.
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Flavivirus genus includes many deadly viruses such as the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and Zika virus (ZIKV). The 5′ terminal regions (TR) of flaviviruses interact with human proteins and such interactions are critical for viral replication. One of the human proteins identified to interact with the 5′ TR of JEV is the DEAD-box helicase, DDX3X. In this study, we in vitro transcribed the 5′ TR of JEV and demonstrated its direct interaction with recombinant DDX3X (Kd of 1.66 ± 0.21 µM) using microscale thermophoresis (MST). Due to the proposed structural similarities of 5′ and 3′ TRs of flaviviruses, we investigated if the ZIKV 5′ TR could also interact with human DDX3X. Our MST studies suggested that DDX3X recognizes ZIKV 5′ TR with a Kd of 7.05 ± 0.75 µM. Next, we performed helicase assays that suggested that the binding of DDX3X leads to the unwinding of JEV and ZIKV 5′ TRs. Overall, our data indicate, for the first time, that DDX3X can directly bind and unwind in vitro transcribed flaviviral TRs. In summary, our work indicates that DDX3X could be further explored as a therapeutic target to inhibit Flaviviral replication
Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) applies
DDX3X , Japanese encephalitis virus , Viral terminal regions , Host-viral interactions , In vitro transcription , Microscale thermophoresis , RNA helicase assays
Nelson, C., Mrozowich, T., Gemmill, D. L., Park, S. M., & Patel, T. R. (2021). Human DDX3X unwinds Japanese encephalitis and Zika viral 5' terminal regions. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(1), 413.