Alphaherpesviruses, including pseudorabies virus (PRV), are neuroinvasive pathogens that establish lifelong latency in peripheral ganglia following the initial infection at mucosal surfaces. The establishment of latent infection and subsequent reactivations, during which newly assembled virions are sorted into and transported anterogradely inside axons to the initial mucosal site of infection, rely on axonal bidirectional transport mediated by microtubule-based motors. Previous studies using cultured peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons have demonstrated that KIF1A, a kinesin-3 motor, mediates the efficient axonal sorting and transport of newly assembled PRV virions. Here we report that KIF1A, unlike other axonal kinesins, is an intrinsically unstable protein prone to proteasomal degradation. Interestingly, PRV infection of neuronal cells leads not only to a nonspecific depletion of KIF1A mRNA but also to an accelerated proteasomal degradation of KIF1A proteins, leading to a near depletion of KIF1A protein late in infection. Using a series of PRV mutants deficient in axonal sorting and anterograde spread, we identified the PRV US9/gE/gI protein complex as a viral factor facilitating the proteasomal degradation of KIF1A proteins. Moreover, by using compartmented neuronal cultures that fluidically and physically separate axons from cell bodies, we found that the proteasomal degradation of KIF1A occurs in axons during infection. We propose that the PRV anterograde sorting complex, gE/gI/US9, recruits KIF1A to viral transport vesicles for axonal sorting and transport and eventually accelerates the proteasomal degradation of KIF1A in axons.IMPORTANCE Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is an alphaherpesvirus related to human pathogens herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 and varicella-zoster virus. Alphaherpesviruses are neuroinvasive pathogens that establish lifelong latent infections in the host peripheral nervous system (PNS). Following reactivation from latency, infection spreads from the PNS back via axons to the peripheral mucosal tissues, a process mediated by kinesin motors. Here, we unveil and characterize the underlying mechanisms for a PRV-induced, accelerated degradation of KIF1A, a kinesin-3 motor promoting the sorting and transport of PRV virions in axons. We show that PRV infection disrupts the synthesis of KIF1A and simultaneously promotes the degradation of intrinsically unstable KIF1A proteins by proteasomes in axons. Our work implies that the timing of motor reduction after reactivation would be critical because progeny particles would have a limited time window for sorting into and transport in axons for further host-to-host spread.
Keywords: KIF1A; alphaherpesvirus; anterograde spread; axonal sorting; kinesin; proteasomal degradation; pseudorabies virus.
Copyright © 2020 American Society for Microbiology.