Human bocavirus (HBoV), a parvovirus, is a single-stranded DNA etiologic agent causing lower respiratory tract infections in young children worldwide. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) transcription factors play crucial roles in clearance of invading viruses through activation of many physiological processes. Previous investigation showed that HBoV infection could significantly upregulate the level of TNF-α which is a strong NF-κB stimulator.
The research group led by Professor Hanzhong Wang in WIV investigated whether HBoV proteins modulate TNF-α–mediated activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway. They showed that HBoV NS1 and NS1-70 proteins blocked NF-κB activation in response to TNF-α. Overexpression of TNF receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2)-, IκB kinase alpha (IKKα)-, IκB kinase beta (IKKβ)-, constitutively active mutant of IKKβ (IKKβ SS/EE)-, or p65-induced NF-κB activation was inhibited by NS1 and NS1-70. Furthermore, NS1 and NS1-70 didn’t interfere with TNF-α-mediated IκBα phosphorylation and degradation, nor p65 nuclear translocation. Coimmunoprecipitation assays confirmed the interaction of both NS1 and NS1-70 with p65. Of note, NS1 but not NS1-70 inhibited TNF-α-mediated p65 phosphorylation at ser536.
Their findings together indicate that HBoV NS1 and NS1-70 inhibit NF-κB activation. This is the first time that HBoV has been shown to inhibit NF-κB activation, revealing a potential immune-evasion mechanism that is likely important for HBoV pathogenesis.