Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Margo A. Brinton


Resistance to flavivirus-induced disease is conferred by a single gene that encodes oligoadenylate synthetase (Oas) 1b (Oas1b). Oas1b is not a functional synthetase suggesting its anti-flavivirus mechanism is RNase L-independent and that it may be mediated by interactions with other host cell protein(s). A yeast two-hybrid screen was used to identify host cell binding partners of Oas1b. Candidate partners were confirmed by yeast co-transformation and co-immunoprecipitation analyses. Oxysterol binding protein-related 1L (ORP1L) and ATP binding cassette subfamily F 3 (ABCF3) were found to interact with Oas1b. RNAi knockdown studies suggested that ORP1L and ABCF3 form a tripartite complex with Oas1b that is critical for the flavivirus-induced disease resistance mechanism.

Stresses including oxidation, nutrient starvation, and viral infections often induce the formation of stress granules (SGs) in eukaryotic cells. In response to stress, eIF2α kinases phosphorylate eIF2α leading to stalled 48S pre-initiation complexes and SG formation. West Nile virus (WNV) Eg101 infections were previously shown not to induce the formation of SGs. Infections with viruses of other natural WNV strains, as well as a WNV lineage 1/2-based infectious clone (W956IC) were analyzed and only W956IC infections were found to induce SGs. eIF2α kinase knockout MEFs were used to show that the W956IC-induced SGs were PKR-dependent. WNV chimeras were made by inserting Eg101 genes into the W956IC backbone. Chimeras replacing NS5 or NS1 and NS5 or NS1 and NS3 and NS4a reduced SG formation as well as early viral RNA synthesis similar to Eg101 infections. W956IC infections but not Eg101 infections were shown to produce exposed viral dsRNA at early times after infection. The data suggest that natural WNV infections evade the cell SG response by suppressing the amplification of viral RNA until cytoplasmic membranes have been remodeled to protect replication complexes from detection.

It was previously reported that WNV Eg101 infections inhibited the formation of arsenite-induced SGs. The ability of other natural WNV strain infections to inhibit SG formation by arsenite (HRI), DTT (PERK), W956IC co-infection (PKR), and heat shock treatments was assessed. WNV infections only inhibited arsenite-induced SG formation suggesting that WNV infections specifically suppress the response to oxidative intermediates.