Vaccinia Virus BBK E3 Ligase Adaptor A55 Targets Importin-Dependent NF-κB Activation and Inhibits CD8 + T-Cell Memory
Pallett MA., Ren H., Zhang R-Y., Scutts SR., Gonzalez L., Zhu Z., Maluquer de Motes C., Smith GL.
NF-κB is a critical transcription factor in the innate immune response to infection and in shaping adaptive immunity. The identification of host and virus proteins that modulate the induction of immunological memory is important for improving virus-based vaccine design and efficacy. In viruses, the expression of BTB-BACK Kelch-like (BBK) proteins is restricted to poxviruses and conserved within them, indicating the importance of these proteins for these medically important viruses. Using vaccinia virus (VACV), the smallpox vaccine, we report that the VACV BBK protein A55 dysregulates NF-κB signaling by disrupting the p65-importin interaction, thus preventing NF-κB translocation and blocking NF-κB-dependent gene transcription. Infection with VACV lacking A55 induces increased VACV-specific CD8 + T-cell memory and better protection against VACV challenge. Studying viral immunomodulators therefore expands not only our understanding of viral pathogenesis and immune evasion strategies but also of the immune signaling cascades controlling antiviral immunity and the development of immune memory.