Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34809467
Link to DOI – 10.1128/mBio.02557-21
mBio 2021 Dec; 12(6): e0255721
Viruses have evolved a plethora of mechanisms to impair host innate immune responses. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a double-stranded linear DNA virus, impairs the mitochondrial network and dynamics predominantly through the UL12.5 gene. We demonstrated that HSV-1 infection induced a remodeling of mitochondrial shape, resulting in a fragmentation of the mitochondria associated with a decrease in their volume and an increase in their sphericity. This damage leads to the release of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to the cytosol. By generating a stable THP-1 cell line expressing the DNase I-mCherry fusion protein and a THP-1 cell line specifically depleted of mtDNA upon ethidium bromide treatment, we showed that cytosolic mtDNA contributes to type I interferon and APOBEC3A upregulation. This was confirmed by using an HSV-1 strain (KOS37 UL98-SPA) with a deletion of the UL12.5 gene that impaired its ability to induce mtDNA stress. Furthermore, by using an inhibitor of RNA polymerase III, we demonstrated that upon HSV-1 infection, cytosolic mtDNA enhanced type I interferon induction through the RNA polymerase III/RIG-I pathway. APOBEC3A was in turn induced by interferon. Deep sequencing analyses of cytosolic mtDNA mutations revealed an APOBEC3A signature predominantly in the 5’TpCpG context. These data demonstrate that upon HSV-1 infection, the mitochondrial network is disrupted, leading to the release of mtDNA and ultimately to its catabolism through APOBEC3-induced mutations. IMPORTANCE Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) impairs the mitochondrial network through the viral protein UL12.5. This leads to the fusion of mitochondria and simultaneous release of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in a mouse model. We have shown that released mtDNA is recognized as a danger signal, capable of stimulating signaling pathways and inducing the production of proinflammatory cytokines. The expression of the human cytidine deaminase APOBEC3A is highly upregulated by interferon responses. This enzyme catalyzes the deamination of cytidine to uridine in single-stranded DNA substrates, resulting in the catabolism of edited DNA. Using human cell lines deprived of mtDNA and viral strains deficient in UL12, we demonstrated the implication of mtDNA in the production of interferon and APOBEC3A expression during viral infection. We have shown that HSV-1 induces mitochondrial network fragmentation in a human model and confirmed the implication of RNA polymerase III/RIG-I signaling in the capture of cytosolic mtDNA.