DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 connects CRM1-dependent nuclear export and translation of the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA through its N-terminal domain

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 May;1859(5):719-30. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2016.03.009. Epub 2016 Mar 21.


DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 is a host factor essential for HIV-1 replication and thus, a potential target for novel therapies aimed to overcome viral resistance. Previous studies have shown that DDX3 promotes nuclear export and translation of the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA. Although the function of DDX3 during both processes requires its catalytic activity, it is unknown whether other domains surrounding the helicase core are involved. Here, we show the involvement of the N- and C-terminal domains of DDX3 in the regulation of HIV-1 unspliced mRNA translation. Our results suggest that the intrinsically disordered N-terminal domain of DDX3 regulates its functions in translation by acting prior to the recruitment of the 43S pre-initiation complex onto the viral 5'-UTR. Interestingly, this regulation was conserved in HIV-2 and was dependent on the CRM1-dependent nuclear export pathway suggesting a role of the RNA helicase in interconnecting nuclear export with ribosome recruitment of the viral unspliced mRNA. This specific function of DDX3 during HIV gene expression could be exploited as an alternative target for pharmaceutical intervention.

Keywords: CRM1; DDX3; HIV-1; Intrinsic disorder; Nuclear export; Translation; Unspliced mRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • HIV Infections / genetics*
  • HIV Infections / therapy
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics
  • Humans
  • Karyopherins / genetics*
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics*
  • Virus Replication / genetics


  • Karyopherins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • exportin 1 protein
  • DDX3X protein, human
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases