DEAD box RNA helicase 5 is a new pro-viral host factor for Sindbis virus infection

Virol J. 2024 Mar 29;21(1):76. doi: 10.1186/s12985-024-02349-3.


Background: RNA helicases are emerging as key factors regulating host-virus interactions. The DEAD-box ATP-dependent RNA helicase DDX5, which plays an important role in many aspects of cellular RNA biology, was also found to either promote or inhibit viral replication upon infection with several RNA viruses. Here, our aim is to examine the impact of DDX5 on Sindbis virus (SINV) infection.

Methods: We analysed the interaction between DDX5 and the viral RNA using imaging and RNA-immunoprecipitation approaches. The interactome of DDX5 in mock- and SINV-infected cells was determined by mass spectrometry. We validated the interaction between DDX17 and the viral capsid by co- immunoprecipitation in the presence or absence of an RNase treatment. We determined the subcellular localization of DDX5, its cofactor DDX17 and the viral capsid protein by co-immunofluorescence. Finally, we investigated the impact of DDX5 depletion and overexpression on SINV infection at the viral protein, RNA and infectious particle accumulation level. The contribution of DDX17 was also tested by knockdown experiments.

Results: In this study we demonstrate that DDX5 interacts with the SINV RNA during infection. Furthermore, the proteomic analysis of the DDX5 interactome in mock and SINV-infected HCT116 cells identified new cellular and viral partners and confirmed the interaction between DDX5 and DDX17. Both DDX5 and DDX17 re-localize from the nucleus to the cytoplasm upon SINV infection and interact with the viral capsid protein. We also show that DDX5 depletion negatively impacts the viral replication cycle, while its overexpression has a pro-viral effect. Finally, we observed that DDX17 depletion reduces SINV infection, an effect which is even more pronounced in a DDX5-depleted background, suggesting a synergistic pro-viral effect of the DDX5 and DDX17 proteins on SINV.

Conclusions: These results not only shed light on DDX5 as a novel and important host factor to the SINV life cycle, but also expand our understanding of the roles played by DDX5 and DDX17 as regulators of viral infections.

Keywords: DDX17; DDX5; Helicase; RNA; Sindbis virus.

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections*
  • Capsid Proteins*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Proteomics
  • RNA
  • Sindbis Virus / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • Capsid Proteins
  • RNA
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases