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Viruses hijack host proteins to promote infection and dampen host defenses. Adenovirus encodes the multifunctional protein VII that serves both to compact viral genomes inside the virion and disrupt host chromatin. Protein VII binds the abundant nuclear protein high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and sequesters HMGB1 in chromatin. HMGB1 is an abundant host nuclear protein that can also be released from infected cells as an alarmin to amplify inflammatory responses. By sequestering HMGB1, protein VII prevents its release, thus inhibiting downstream inflammatory signaling. However, the consequences of this chromatin sequestration on host transcription are unknown. Here, we employ bacterial two-hybrid interaction assays and human cell biological systems to interrogate the mechanism of the protein VII-HMGB1 interaction. HMGB1 contains two DNA binding domains, the A- and B-boxes, that bend DNA to promote transcription factor binding while the C-terminal tail regulates this interaction. We demonstrate that protein VII interacts directly with the A-box of HMGB1, an interaction that is inhibited by the HMGB1 C-terminal tail. By cellular fractionation, we show that protein VII renders A-box containing constructs insoluble, thereby acting to prevent their release from cells. This sequestration is not dependent on HMGB1's ability to bind DNA but does require post-translational modifications on protein VII. Importantly, we demonstrate that protein VII inhibits expression of interferon β, in an HMGB1- dependent manner, but does not affect transcription of downstream interferon- stimulated genes. Together, our results demonstrate that protein VII specifically harnesses HMGB1 through its A-box domain to depress the innate immune response and promote infection.


Edward A Arnold, Robin J Kaai, Katie Leung, Mia R Brinkley, Laurel E Kelnhofer-Millevolte, Monica S Guo, Daphne C Avgousti. Adenovirus protein VII binds the A-box of HMGB1 to repress interferon responses. bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology. 2023 Apr 18

PMID: 37131771

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