Junping Li,Libin Liang,Li Jiang,Qian Wang,Xia Wen,Yuhui Zhao,Pengfei Cui, Yaping Zhang, Guangwen Wang, Qibing Li, Guohua Deng,Jianzhong Shi,Guobin Tian,Xianying Zeng,Yongping Jiang,Liling Liu, Hualan Chen, Chengjun Li
PLoS Pathog.2021 Feb 11;17(2):e1009336.doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009336. Online ahead of print.
Posttranslational modifications, such as SUMOylation, play specific roles in the life cycle of invading pathogens. However, the effect of SUMOylation on the adaptation, pathogenesis, and transmission of influenza A virus (IAV) remains largely unknown. Here, we found that a conserved lysine residue at position 612 (K612) of the polymerase basic protein 1 (PB1) of IAV is a bona fide SUMOylation site. SUMOylation of PB1 at K612 had no effect on the stability or cellular localization of PB1, but was critical for viral ribonucleoprotein (vRNP) complex activity and virus replication in vitro. When tested in vivo, we found that the virulence of SUMOylation-defective PB1/K612R mutant IAVs was highly attenuated in mice. Moreover, the airborne transmission of a 2009 pandemic H1N1 PB1/K612R mutant virus was impaired in ferrets, resulting in reversion to wild-type PB1 K612. Mechanistically, SUMOylation at K612 was essential for PB1 to act as the enzymatic core of the viral polymerase by preserving its ability to bind viral RNA. Our study reveals an essential role for PB1 K612 SUMOylation in the pathogenesis and transmission of IAVs, which can be targeted for the design of anti-influenza therapies.