Structural Insight into the Substrate Scope of Viperin and Viperin-like Enzymes from Three Domains of Life

Biochemistry. 2021 Jul 6;60(26):2116-2129. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.0c00958. Epub 2021 Jun 22.


Viperin is a member of the radical S-adenosylmethionine superfamily and has been shown to restrict the replication of a wide range of RNA and DNA viruses. We recently demonstrated that human viperin (HsVip) catalyzes the conversion of CTP to 3'-deoxy-3',4'-didehydro-CTP (ddhCTP or ddh-synthase), which acts as a chain terminator for virally encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerases from several flaviviruses. Viperin homologues also exist in non-chordate eukaryotes (e.g., Cnidaria and Mollusca), numerous fungi, and members of the archaeal and eubacterial domains. Recently, it was reported that non-chordate and non-eukaryotic viperin-like homologues are also ddh-synthases and generate a diverse range of ddhNTPs, including the newly discovered ddhUTP and ddhGTP. Herein, we expand on the catalytic mechanism of mammalian, fungal, bacterial, and archaeal viperin-like enzymes with a combination of X-ray crystallography and enzymology. We demonstrate that, like mammalian viperins, these recently discovered viperin-like enzymes operate through the same mechanism and can be classified as ddh-synthases. Furthermore, we define the unique chemical and physical determinants supporting ddh-synthase activity and nucleotide selectivity, including the crystallographic characterization of a fungal viperin-like enzyme that utilizes UTP as a substrate and a cnidaria viperin-like enzyme that utilizes CTP as a substrate. Together, these results support the evolutionary conservation of the ddh-synthase activity and its broad phylogenetic role in innate antiviral immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry*
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biocatalysis
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry*
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypocrea / enzymology
  • Methanomicrobiaceae / enzymology
  • Mice
  • Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / chemistry*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Nucleotides
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors