Human MX1 orchestrates the cytoplasmic sequestration of neo-synthesized influenza A virus vRNPs

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Interferon-inducible Myxovirus resistance 1 (MX1) proteins are well-known to restrict influenza A virus (IAV) at early stages during viral replication, impairing the viral transcription/replication process. Herein, we show that this early restriction was only partial against human IAVs, whereas a strong inhibition of viral production was observed. Indeed, relatively high levels of IAV mRNAs and proteins were observed in the presence of human (Hs) and mouse (Mm) MX1 proteins but additional inhibition processes occurred at later stages of IAV life cycle. Hence, MmMx1 induced an abnormal nuclear accumulation of the viral nucleoprotein (NP) at late time points post-infection. This block was also observed, albeit to a much lower extent, with HsMX1. In most HsMX1-expressing cells, vRNPs could be exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm however a potent defect in subsequent vRNP cytoplasmic trafficking was observed. Indeed, vRNPs were found sequestrated together with cellular co-factors YBX1 and Rab11a in large clusters in the vicinity of the microtubule organization center (MTOC). Live imaging experiments revealed that the transient association of HsMX1 with Rab11a-associated vRNPs favoured their dynein-dependant retrograde transport along microtubules towards the MTOC. Importantly, dynein inhibition prevented the vRNP sequestration and significantly rescued infectious viral production in the presence of HsMX1, showing a significant contribution of these abnormal vRNP clusters in HsMX1 antiviral activity. In conclusion, this study provides the first evidence of IAV vRNPs being re-routed and accumulated away from the plasma membrane, through the coordinated action of HsMX1 restriction factor, dynein and the microtubule network.

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