Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17287294
Nucleic Acids Res. 2007;35(5):1522-32
Viral proteins are frequently multifunctional to accommodate the high density of information encoded in viral genomes. Matrix (M) protein of negative-stranded RNA viruses such as Rhabdoviridae is one such example. Its primary function is virus assembly/budding but it is also involved in the switch from viral transcription to replication and the concomitant down regulation of host gene expression. In this study we undertook a search for potential rabies virus (RV) M protein’s cellular partners. In a yeast two-hybrid screen the eIF3h subunit was identified as an M-interacting cellular factor, and the interaction was validated by co-immunoprecipitation and surface plasmon resonance assays. Upon expression in mammalian cell cultures, RV M protein was localized in early small ribosomal subunit fractions. Further, M protein added in trans inhibited in vitro translation on mRNA encompassing classical (Kozak-like) 5′-UTRs. Interestingly, translation of hepatitis C virus IRES-containing mRNA, which recruits eIF3 via a different noncanonical mechanism, was unaffected. Together, the data suggest that, as a complement to its functions in virus assembly/budding and regulation of viral transcription, RV M protein plays a role in inhibiting translation in virus-infected cells through a protein-protein interaction with the cellular translation machinery.