Herein, we show a direct relationship between the Hantaan virus (HTNV) nucleocapsid (N) protein and the modulation of apoptosis. We observed an increase in caspase-7 and -8, but not -9 in cells expressing HTNV N protein mutants lacking amino acids 270-330. Similar results were observed for the New World hantavirus, Andes virus. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) was sequestered in the cytoplasm after tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) stimulation in cells expressing HTNV N protein. Further, TNFR stimulated cells expressing HTNV N protein inhibited caspase activation. In contrast, cells expressing N protein truncations lacking the region from amino acids 270-330 were unable to inhibit nuclear import of NF-kappaB and the mutants also triggered caspase activity. These results suggest that the HTNV circumvents host antiviral signaling and apoptotic response mediated by the TNFR pathway through host interactions with the N protein.
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