, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 256-271
Date: 25 Nov 2010

The ribonucleotide reductase R1 subunits of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 protect cells against TNFα- and FasL-induced apoptosis by interacting with caspase-8

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We previously reported that HSV-2 R1, the R1 subunit (ICP10; UL39) of herpes simplex virus type-2 ribonucleotide reductase, protects cells against apoptosis induced by the death receptor (DR) ligands tumor necrosis factor-alpha- (TNFα) and Fas ligand (FasL) by interrupting DR-mediated signaling at, or upstream of, caspase-8 activation. Further investigation of the molecular mechanism underlying HSV-2 R1 protection showed that extracellular-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt, NF-κB and JNK survival pathways do not play a major role in this antiapoptotic function. Interaction studies revealed that HSV-2 R1 interacted constitutively with caspase-8. The HSV-2 R1 deletion mutant R1(1-834)-GFP and Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) R1, which did not protect against apoptosis induced by DR ligands, did not interact with caspase-8, indicating that interaction is required for protection. HSV-2 R1 impaired caspase-8 activation induced by caspase-8 over-expression, suggesting that interaction between the two proteins prevents caspase-8 dimerization/activation. HSV-2 R1 bound to caspase-8 directly through its prodomain but did not interact with either its caspase domain or Fas-associated death domain protein (FADD). Interaction between HSV-2 R1 and caspase-8 disrupted FADD-caspase-8 binding. We further demonstrated that individually expressed HSV-1 R1 (ICP6) shares, with HSV-2 R1, the ability to bind caspase-8 and to protect cells against DR-induced apoptosis. Finally, as the long-lived Fas protein remained stable during the early period of infection, experiments with the HSV-1 UL39 deletion mutant ICP6∆ showed that HSV-1 R1 could be essential for the protection of HSV-1-infected cells against FasL.