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Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Kinase 2 (MEK2), a Novel E2-interacting Protein, Promotes the Growth of Classical Swine Fever Virus via Attenuation of the JAK-STAT Signaling Pathway

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Jinghan Wang
  • Shucheng Chen
  • Yajin Liao
  • Enyu Zhang
  • Shuo Feng
  • Shaoxiong Yu
  • Lian-Feng Li
  • Wen-Rui He
  • Yongfeng Li
  • Yuzi Luo
  • Yuan Sun
  • Mo Zhou
  • Xiao Wang
  • Muhammad Munir
  • Su Li
  • Hua-Ji Qiu
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Virology
Issue number22
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)10271-10283
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/09/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase/extracellular regulated kinase (MEK1/2/ERK1/2) cascade is involved in the replication of several members of the Flaviviridae family including hepatitis C virus and dengue virus. The effects of the cascade on the replication of classical swine fever virus (CSFV), a fatal pestivirus of pigs, remain unknown. In this study, MEK2 was identified as a novel binding partner of the E2 protein of CSFV using yeast two-hybrid screening. The E2-MEK2 interaction was confirmed by glutathione S-transferase pulldown, coimmunoprecipitation, and laser confocal microscopy assays. The C-termini of E2 [amino acids (aa) 890-1053] and MEK2 (aa 266-400) were mapped to be crucial for the interaction. Overexpression of MEK2 significantly promoted the replication of CSFV, whereas knockdown of MEK2 by lentivirus-mediated small hairpin RNAs dramatically inhibited CSFV replication. In addition, CSFV infection induced a biphasic activation of ERK1/2, the downstream signaling molecules of MEK2. Furthermore, the replication of CSFV was markedly inhibited in PK-15 cells treated with U0126, a specific inhibitor for MEK1/2/ERK1/2, whereas MEK2 did not affect CSFV replication after blocking the interferon-induced Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling pathway by ruxolitinib, a JAK-STAT-specific inhibitor. Taken together, our results indicate that MEK2 positively regulates the replication of CSFV through inhibiting the JAK-STAT signaling pathway.

IMPORTANCE: Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 2 (MEK2) is a kinase that operates immediately upstream of extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and links to Raf and ERK via phosphorylation. Currently, little is known about the role of MEK2 in the replication of classical swine fever virus (CSFV), a devastating porcine pestivirus. Here, we investigate the roles of MEK2 and the MEK2/ERK1/2 cascade in the growth of CSFV for the first time. We show that MEK2 positively regulates CSFV replication. Notably, we demonstrate that MEK2 promotes CSFV replication through inhibiting the interferon-induced JAK-STAT signaling pathway, a key antiviral pathway involved in the innate immunity. Our work reveals a novel role of MEK2 in CSFV infection and sheds light on the molecular basis by which pestiviruses interplay with the host cell.