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African swine fever (ASF) is an acute and severe infectious disease caused by the ASF virus (ASFV). The mortality rate of ASF in pigs can reach 100%, causing huge economic losses to the pig industry. Here, we found that ASFV protein MGF505-7R inhibited the beta interferon (IFN-β)-mediated Janus-activated kinase-signal transducer and activation of transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling. Our results demonstrate that MGF505-7R inhibited interferon-stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3)-mediated IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) promoter activity. Importantly, we observed that MGF505-7R inhibits ISGF3 heterotrimer formation by interacting with interferon regulatory factor 9 (IRF9) and inhibits the nuclear translocation of ISGF3. Moreover, to demonstrate the role of MGF505-7R in IFN-I signal transduction during ASFV infection, we constructed and evaluated ASFV-ΔMGF505-7R recombinant viruses. ASFV-ΔMGF505-7R restored STAT2 and STAT1 phosphorylation, alleviated the inhibition of ISGF3 nuclear translocation, and showed increased susceptibility to IFN-β, unlike the parental GZ201801 strain. In conclusion, our study shows that ASFV protein MGF505-7R plays a key role in evading IFN-I-mediated innate immunity, revealing a new mode of evasion for ASFV. IMPORTANCE ASF, caused by ASFV, is currently prevalent in Eurasia, with mortality rates reaching 100% in pigs. At present, there are no safe or effective vaccines against ASFV. In this study, we found that the ASFV protein MGF505-7R hinders IFN-β signaling by interacting with IRF9 and inhibiting the formation of ISGF3 heterotrimers. Of note, we demonstrated that MGF505-7R plays a role in the immune evasion of ASFV in infected hosts and that recombinant viruses alleviated the effect on type I IFN (IFN-I) signaling and exhibited increased susceptibility to IFN-β. This study provides a theoretical basis for developing vaccines against ASFV using strains with MGF505-7R gene deletions.


Zhao Huang, Haoxuan Cao, Fanliang Zeng, Sizhan Lin, Jianglin Chen, Yi Luo, Jianyi You, Cuiying Kong, Zhanzhuo Mai, Jie Deng, Weiting Guo, Xiongnan Chen, Heng Wang, Pei Zhou, Guihong Zhang, Lang Gong. African Swine Fever Virus MGF505-7R Interacts with Interferon Regulatory Factor 9 to Evade the Type I Interferon Signaling Pathway and Promote Viral Replication. Journal of virology. 2023 Mar 30;97(3):e0197722

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PMID: 36815839

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