A short hairpin RNA screen of interferon-stimulated genes identifies a novel negative regulator of the cellular antiviral response

Jianqing Li, Steve C. Ding, Hyelim Cho, Brian C. Chung, Gale Michael, Sumit K. Chanda, Michael S. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The type I interferon (IFN) signaling pathway restricts infection of many divergent families of RNA and DNA viruses by inducing hundreds of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), some of which have direct antiviral activity. We screened 813 short hairpin RNA (shRNA) constructs targeting 245 human ISGs using a flow cytometry approach to identify genes that modulated infection of West Nile virus (WNV) in IFN-β-treated human cells. Thirty ISGs with inhibitory effects against WNV were identified, including several novel genes that had antiviral activity against related and unrelated positive-strand RNA viruses. We also defined one ISG, activating signal cointegrator complex 3 (ASCC3), which functioned as a negative regulator of the host defense response. Silencing of ASCC3 resulted in upregulation of multiple antiviral ISGs, which correlated with inhibition of infection of several positive-strand RNA viruses. Reciprocally, ectopic expression of human ASCC3 or mouse Ascc3 resulted in downregulation of ISGs and increased viral infection. Mechanism-of-action and RNA sequencing studies revealed that ASCC3 functions to modulate ISG expression in an IRF-3and IRF-7-dependent manner. Compared to prior ectopic ISG expression studies, our shRNA screen identified novel ISGs that restrict infection of WNV and other viruses and defined a new counterregulatory ISG, ASCC3, which tempers cell-intrinsic immunity. IMPORTANCE West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-transmitted virus that continues to pose a threat to public health. Innate immune responses, especially those downstream of type I interferon (IFN) signaling, are critical for controlling virus infection and spread. We performed a genetic screen using a gene silencing approach and identified 30 interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) that contributed to the host antiviral response against WNV. As part of this screen, we also identified a novel negative regulatory protein, ASCC3, which dampens expression of ISGs, including those with antiviral or proinflammatory activity. In summary, our studies define a series of heretofore-uncharacterized ISGs with antiviral effects against multiple viruses or counterregulatory effects that temper IFN signaling and likely minimize immune-mediated pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00385-13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


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