Role of Host-Mediated Post-Translational Modifications (PTMs) in RNA Virus Pathogenesis

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 30;22(1):323. doi: 10.3390/ijms22010323.


Being opportunistic intracellular pathogens, viruses are dependent on the host for their replication. They hijack host cellular machinery for their replication and survival by targeting crucial cellular physiological pathways, including transcription, translation, immune pathways, and apoptosis. Immediately after translation, the host and viral proteins undergo a process called post-translational modification (PTM). PTMs of proteins involves the attachment of small proteins, carbohydrates/lipids, or chemical groups to the proteins and are crucial for the proteins' functioning. During viral infection, host proteins utilize PTMs to control the virus replication, using strategies like activating immune response pathways, inhibiting viral protein synthesis, and ultimately eliminating the virus from the host. PTM of viral proteins increases solubility, enhances antigenicity and virulence properties. However, RNA viruses are devoid of enzymes capable of introducing PTMs to their proteins. Hence, they utilize the host PTM machinery to promote their survival. Proteins from viruses belonging to the family: Togaviridae, Flaviviridae, Retroviridae, and Coronaviridae such as chikungunya, dengue, zika, HIV, and coronavirus are a few that are well-known to be modified. This review discusses various host and virus-mediated PTMs that play a role in the outcome during the infection.

Keywords: RNA viruses; acetylation; glycosylation; host factors; pathogenesis; phosphorylation; post-translation modification; ubiquitination; virulence factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Chikungunya virus / metabolism
  • Coronavirus / metabolism
  • Coronavirus / pathogenicity
  • Cytopathogenic Effect, Viral
  • Glycosylation
  • HIV / metabolism
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • Host Microbial Interactions
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • RNA Virus Infections / enzymology*
  • RNA Virus Infections / immunology
  • RNA Virus Infections / metabolism
  • RNA Virus Infections / virology*
  • RNA Viruses / immunology
  • RNA Viruses / metabolism*
  • RNA Viruses / pathogenicity*
  • Ubiquitination
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Replication / physiology
  • Zika Virus / metabolism
  • Zika Virus / pathogenicity


  • Viral Proteins