Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26317997
PLoS Pathog. 2015 Aug;11(8):e1005091
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), the causative agent of a major epidemic spanning five continents, is a positive stranded mRNA virus that replicates using the cell’s cap-dependent translation machinery. Despite viral infection inhibiting mTOR, a metabolic sensor controls cap-dependent translation, viral proteins are efficiently translated. Rapalog treatment, silencing of mtor or raptor genes, but not rictor, further enhanced CHIKV infection in culture cells. Using biochemical assays and real time imaging, we demonstrate that this effect is independent of autophagy or type I interferon production. Providing in vivo evidence for the relevance of our findings, mice treated with mTORC1 inhibitors exhibited increased lethality and showed a higher sensitivity to CHIKV. A systematic evaluation of the viral life cycle indicated that inhibition of mTORC1 has a specific positive effect on viral proteins, enhancing viral replication by increasing the translation of both structural and nonstructural proteins. Molecular analysis defined a role for phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) and MAP kinase-activated protein kinase (MnKs) activation, leading to the hyper-phosphorylation of eIF4E. Finally, we demonstrated that in the context of CHIKV inhibition of mTORC1, viral replication is prioritized over host translation via a similar mechanism. Our study reveals an unexpected bypass pathway by which CHIKV protein translation overcomes viral induced mTORC1 inhibition.