Akt Interacts with Usutu Virus Polymerase, and Its Activity Modulates Viral Replication

Laura Albentosa-González, Rosario Sabariegos, Armando Arias, Pilar Clemente-Casares, Antonio Mas
2021 Pathogens  
Usutu virus (USUV) is a flavivirus that mainly infects wild birds through the bite of Culex mosquitoes. Recent outbreaks have been associated with an increased number of cases in humans. Despite being a growing source of public health concerns, there is yet insufficient data on the virus or host cell targets for infection control. In this work we have investigated whether the cellular kinase Akt and USUV polymerase NS5 interact and co-localize in a cell. To this aim, we performed
more » ... rmed co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) assays, followed by confocal microscopy analyses. We further tested whether NS5 is a phosphorylation substrate of Akt in vitro. Finally, to examine its role in viral replication, we chemically silenced Akt with three inhibitors (MK-2206, honokiol and ipatasertib). We found that both proteins are localized (confocal) and pulled down (Co-IP) together when expressed in different cell lines, supporting the fact that they are interacting partners. This possibility was further sustained by data showing that NS5 is phosphorylated by Akt. Treatment of USUV-infected cells with Akt-specific inhibitors led to decreases in virus titers (>10-fold). Our results suggest an important role for Akt in virus replication and stimulate further investigations to examine the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway as an antiviral target.
doi:10.3390/pathogens10020244 pmid:33672588 fatcat:3ezbguihanddbij37dn3nl5v3m