Novel modulators of p53-signaling encoded by unknown genes of emerging viruses

PLoS Pathog. 2021 Jan 7;17(1):e1009033. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009033. eCollection 2021 Jan.


The p53 transcription factor plays a key role both in cancer and in the cell-intrinsic response to infections. The ORFEOME project hypothesized that novel p53-virus interactions reside in hitherto uncharacterized, unknown, or hypothetical open reading frames (orfs) of human viruses. Hence, 172 orfs of unknown function from the emerging viruses SARS-Coronavirus, MERS-Coronavirus, influenza, Ebola, Zika (ZIKV), Chikungunya and Kaposi Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) were de novo synthesized, validated and tested in a functional screen of p53 signaling. This screen revealed novel mechanisms of p53 virus interactions and two viral proteins KSHV orf10 and ZIKV NS2A binding to p53. Originally identified as the target of small DNA tumor viruses, these experiments reinforce the notion that all viruses, including RNA viruses, interfere with p53 functions. These results validate this resource for analogous systems biology approaches to identify functional properties of uncharacterized viral proteins, long non-coding RNAs and micro RNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chikungunya virus / genetics
  • Chikungunya virus / metabolism
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / virology*
  • Coronavirus / genetics
  • Coronavirus / metabolism
  • Ebolavirus / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / metabolism
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / genetics
  • Influenza A virus / metabolism
  • Open Reading Frames
  • RNA Viruses / genetics
  • RNA Viruses / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / metabolism
  • Zika Virus / genetics
  • Zika Virus / metabolism


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins