Proteasome inhibition in vivo promotes survival in a lethal murine model of severe acute respiratory syndrome

J Virol. 2010 Dec;84(23):12419-28. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01219-10. Epub 2010 Sep 22.


Ubiquitination is a critical regulator of the host immune response to viral infection, and many viruses, including coronaviruses, encode proteins that target the ubiquitination system. To explore the link between coronavirus infection and the ubiquitin system, we asked whether protein degradation by the 26S proteasome plays a role in severe coronavirus infections using a murine model of SARS-like pneumonitis induced by murine hepatitis virus strain 1 (MHV-1). In vitro, the pretreatment of peritoneal macrophages with inhibitors of the proteasome (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate [PDTC], MG132, and PS-341) markedly inhibited MHV-1 replication at an early step in its replication cycle, as evidenced by inhibition of viral RNA production. Proteasome inhibition also blocked viral cytotoxicity in macrophages, as well as the induction of inflammatory mediators such as IP-10, gamma interferon (IFN-γ), and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1). In vivo, intranasal inoculation of MHV-1 results in a lethal pneumonitis in A/J mice. Treatment of A/J mice with the proteasome inhibitor PDTC, MG132, or PS-341 led to 40% survival (P < 0.01), with a concomitant improvement of lung histology, reduced pulmonary viral replication, decreased pulmonary STAT phosphorylation, and reduced pulmonary inflammatory cytokine expression. These data demonstrate that inhibition of the cellular proteasome attenuates pneumonitis and cytokine gene expression in vivo by reducing MHV-1 replication and the resulting inflammatory response. The results further suggest that targeting the proteasome may be an effective new treatment for severe coronavirus infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Boronic Acids / pharmacology
  • Bortezomib
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology*
  • Histological Techniques
  • Leupeptins / pharmacology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Murine hepatitis virus / immunology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pneumonia / immunology*
  • Pneumonia / metabolism
  • Pneumonia / virology
  • Proline / analogs & derivatives
  • Proline / pharmacology
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism*
  • Proteasome Inhibitors
  • Pyrazines / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • STAT Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thiocarbamates / pharmacology
  • Ubiquitination
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*


  • Boronic Acids
  • Cytokines
  • DNA Primers
  • Leupeptins
  • Proteasome Inhibitors
  • Pyrazines
  • STAT Transcription Factors
  • Thiocarbamates
  • prolinedithiocarbamate
  • Bortezomib
  • Proline
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • ATP dependent 26S protease
  • benzyloxycarbonylleucyl-leucyl-leucine aldehyde