Interferon inhibits dengue virus infection by preventing translation of viral RNA through a PKR-independent mechanism

Michael S. Diamond, Eva Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Previously, we demonstrated that pretreatment of cells with interferon (IFN) α + γ or β + γ inhibited dengue virus (DV) replication. In this study, experiments were performed to better define the mechanism by which IFN blocks the accumulation of dengue virus (DV) RNA. Pretreatment of human hepatoma cells with IFN β + γ did not significantly alter virus attachment, viral entry, or nucleocapsid penetration into the cytoplasm. The inhibitory effect of IFN was retained even when naked DV RNA was transfected directly into cells, confirming that steps associated with viral entry were not the primary target of IFN action. Biosynthetic labeling experiments revealed that IFN abolished the translation of infectious viral RNA that occurred prior to RNA replication. Subcellular fractionation experiments demonstrated that IFN did not significantly alter the ability of viral RNA to attach to ribosomes. The antiviral effect of IFN appeared independent of the IFN-induced, double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) and RNase L, as genetically deficient PKR- RNase L- cells that were infected by DV retained sensitivity to inhibition by IFN. We conclude that IFN prevents DV infection by inhibiting translation of the infectious viral RNA through a novel, PKR-independent mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-311
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 25 2001


  • Dengue
  • Flavivirus
  • Interferon
  • Nucleocapsid
  • RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR)
  • Replication
  • Ribosome
  • Superinfection
  • Translation
  • Virus


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