Impact of Měnglà Virus Proteins on Human and Bat Innate Immune Pathways

J Virol. 2020 Jun 16;94(13):e00191-20. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00191-20. Print 2020 Jun 16.


Měnglà virus (MLAV), identified in Rousettus bats, is a phylogenetically distinct member of the family Filoviridae Because the filoviruses Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) modulate host innate immunity, MLAV VP35, VP40, and VP24 proteins were compared with their EBOV and MARV homologs for innate immune pathway modulation. In human and Rousettus cells, MLAV VP35 behaved like EBOV and MARV VP35s, inhibiting virus-induced activation of the interferon beta (IFN-β) promoter and interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) phosphorylation. MLAV VP35 also interacted with PACT, a host protein engaged by EBOV VP35 to inhibit RIG-I signaling. MLAV VP35 also inhibits PKR activation. MLAV VP40 was demonstrated to inhibit type I IFN-induced gene expression in human and bat cells. It blocked STAT1 tyrosine phosphorylation induced either by type I IFN or overexpressed Jak1, paralleling MARV VP40. MLAV VP40 also inhibited virus-induced IFN-β promoter activation, a property shared by MARV VP40 and EBOV VP24. A Jak kinase inhibitor did not recapitulate this inhibition in the absence of viral proteins. Therefore, inhibition of Jak-STAT signaling is insufficient to explain inhibition of IFN-β promoter activation. MLAV VP24 did not inhibit IFN-induced gene expression or bind karyopherin α proteins, properties of EBOV VP24. MLAV VP24 differed from MARV VP24 in that it failed to interact with Keap1 or activate an antioxidant response element reporter gene due to the absence of a Keap1-binding motif. These functional observations support a closer relationship of MLAV to MARV than to EBOV but also are consistent with MLAV belonging to a distinct genus.IMPORTANCE EBOV and MARV, members of the family Filoviridae, are highly pathogenic zoonotic viruses that cause severe disease in humans. Both viruses use several mechanisms to modulate the host innate immune response, and these likely contribute to the severity of disease. Here, we demonstrate that MLAV, a filovirus newly discovered in a bat, suppresses antiviral type I interferon responses in both human and bat cells. Inhibitory activities are possessed by MLAV VP35 and VP40, which parallels how MARV blocks IFN responses. However, whereas MARV activates cellular antioxidant responses through an interaction between its VP24 protein and host protein Keap1, MLAV VP24 lacks a Keap1-binding motif and fails to activate this cytoprotective response. These data indicate that MLAV possesses immune-suppressing functions that could facilitate human infection. They also support the placement of MLAV in a different genus than either EBOV or MARV.

Keywords: Ebola virus; Marburg virus; filovirus; interferon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / immunology
  • Chiroptera / virology
  • Ebolavirus
  • Filoviridae / genetics*
  • Filoviridae / metabolism
  • Filoviridae / pathogenicity
  • Filoviridae Infections / physiopathology*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-3 / immunology
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-3 / metabolism
  • Interferon-beta / immunology
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Marburgvirus
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins / metabolism


  • IRF3 protein, human
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-3
  • KEAP1 protein, human
  • Kelch-Like ECH-Associated Protein 1
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • STAT1 protein, human
  • VP35 protein, filovirus
  • Viral Proteins
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins
  • Interferon-beta