MAVS dimer is a crucial signaling component of innate immunity and the target of hepatitis C virus NS3/4A protease

J Virol. 2009 Feb;83(3):1299-311. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01659-08. Epub 2008 Nov 26.


The mitochondrial antiviral signaling (MAVS) protein plays a central role in innate antiviral immunity. Upon recognition of a virus, intracellular receptors of the RIG-I-like helicase family interact with MAVS to trigger a signaling cascade. In this study, we investigate the requirement of the MAVS structure for enabling its signaling by structure-function analyses and resonance energy transfer approaches in live cells. We now report the essential role of the MAVS oligomer in signal transduction and map the transmembrane domain as the main determinant of dimerization. A combination of mutagenesis and computational methods identified a cluster of residues making favorable van der Waals interactions at the MAVS dimer interface. We also correlated the activation of IRF3 and NF-kappaB with MAVS oligomerization rather than its mitochondrial localization. Finally, we demonstrated that MAVS oligomerization is disrupted upon expression of HCV NS3/4A protease, suggesting a mechanism for the loss of antiviral signaling. Altogether, our data suggest that the MAVS oligomer is essential in the formation of a multiprotein membrane-associated signaling complex and enables downstream activation of IRF3 and NF-kappaB in antiviral innate immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Primers
  • Dimerization
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mutagenesis
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • NS3 protein, hepatitis C virus
  • NS4A cofactor peptide, Hepatitis C virus
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins
  • Viral Proteins