Recognition of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) DNA by the cytosolic sensor cGAS initiates STING-dependent innate antiviral responses. HCMV can antagonize host immune responses to promote latency infection. However, it is unknown whether and how HCMV targets the cGAS-STING axis for immune evasion. Here we identified the HCMV tegument protein UL82 as a negative regulator of STING-dependent antiviral responses. UL82 interacted with STING and impaired STING-mediated signaling via two mechanisms. UL82 inhibited the translocation of STING from the ER to perinuclear microsomes by disrupting the STING-iRhom2-TRAPβ translocation complex. UL82 also impaired the recruitment of TBK1 and IRF3 to the STING complex. The levels of downstream antiviral genes induced by UL82-deficient HCMV were higher than those induced by wild-type HCMV. Conversely, wild-type HCMV replicated more efficiently than the UL82-deficient mutant. These findings reveal an important mechanism of immune evasion by HCMV.
Keywords: HCMV; MITA; STING; UL82; cGAS; iRhom2; immune evasion; innate immunity; virus.
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