Viral protein engagement of GBF1 induces host cell vulnerability through synthetic lethality

J Cell Biol. 2022 Nov 7;221(11):e202011050. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202011050. Epub 2022 Oct 28.


Viruses co-opt host proteins to carry out their lifecycle. Repurposed host proteins may thus become functionally compromised; a situation analogous to a loss-of-function mutation. We term such host proteins as viral-induced hypomorphs. Cells bearing cancer driver loss-of-function mutations have successfully been targeted with drugs perturbing proteins encoded by the synthetic lethal (SL) partners of cancer-specific mutations. Similarly, SL interactions of viral-induced hypomorphs can potentially be targeted as host-based antiviral therapeutics. Here, we use GBF1, which supports the infection of many RNA viruses, as a proof-of-concept. GBF1 becomes a hypomorph upon interaction with the poliovirus protein 3A. Screening for SL partners of GBF1 revealed ARF1 as the top hit, disruption of which selectively killed cells that synthesize 3A alone or in the context of a poliovirus replicon. Thus, viral protein interactions can induce hypomorphs that render host cells selectively vulnerable to perturbations that leave uninfected cells otherwise unscathed. Exploiting viral-induced vulnerabilities could lead to broad-spectrum antivirals for many viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors* / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Poliovirus*
  • Synthetic Lethal Mutations
  • Viral Core Proteins* / genetics
  • Viral Core Proteins* / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • GBF1 protein, human
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • 3A protein, Poliovirus
  • Viral Core Proteins
  • ARF1 protein, human