Kinome-Wide RNA Interference Screening Identifies Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases and Phosphatidylinositol Metabolism as Key Factors for Rabies Virus Infection

mSphere. 2019 May 22;4(3):e00047-19. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00047-19.


Throughout the rabies virus (RABV) infectious cycle, host-virus interactions define its capacity to replicate, escape the immune response, and spread. As phosphorylation is a key regulatory mechanism involved in most cellular processes, kinases represent a target of choice to identify host factors required for viral replication. A kinase and phosphatase small interfering RNA (siRNA) high-content screening was performed on a fluorescent protein-recombinant field isolate (Tha RABV). We identified 57 high-confidence key host factors important for RABV replication with a readout set at 18 h postinfection and 73 with a readout set at 36 h postinfection, including 24 common factors at all stages of the infection. Amongst them, gene clusters of the most prominent pathways were determined. Up to 15 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and effectors, including MKK7 (associated with Jun N-terminal protein kinase [JNK] signalization) and DUSP5, as well as 17 phosphatidylinositol (PI)-related proteins, including PIP5K1C and MTM1, were found to be involved in the later stage of RABV infection. The importance of these pathways was further validated, as small molecules Ro 31-8820 and PD 198306 inhibited RABV replication in human neurons.IMPORTANCE Rabies virus relies on cellular machinery for its replication while simultaneously evading the host immune response. Despite their importance, little is known about the key host factors required for rabies virus infection. Here, we focused on the human kinome, at the core of many cellular pathways, to unveil a new understanding of the rabies virus infectious cycle and to discover new potential therapeutic targets in a small interfering RNA screening. The mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway and phosphatidylinositol metabolism were identified as prominent factors involved in rabies virus infection, and those findings were further confirmed in human neurons. While bringing a new insight into rabies virus biology, we also provide a new list of host factors involved in rabies virus infection.

Keywords: RNA interference; drug screening; inositol phosphate phosphatases; mitogen-activated protein kinases; rabies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Host Microbial Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositols / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference*
  • Rabies virus / genetics
  • Rabies virus / physiology*
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Virus Replication


  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases