Attenuated poxviruses like modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) are promising vectors for vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer. However, host innate immune responses interfere with the viral life cycle and also influence the immunogenicity of vaccine vectors. Sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain and histidineaspartate (HD) domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) is a phosphohydrolase and reduces cellular deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) concentrations, which impairs poxviral DNA replication in human dendritic cells (DCs). Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) encode an accessory protein called viral protein X (Vpx) that promotes proteasomal degradation of SAMHD1, leading to a rapid increase in cellular dNTP concentrations. To study the function of SAMHD1 during MVA infection of human DCs, the SIV vpx gene was introduced into the MVA genome (resulting in recombinant MVA-vpx). Infection of human DCs with MVA-vpx led to SAMHD1 protein degradation and enabled MVA-vpx to replicate its DNA genome and to express genes controlled by late promoters. Late gene expression by MVA-vpx might improve its vaccine vector properties; however, type I interferon expression was unexpectedly blocked by Vpx-expressing MVA. MVA-vpx can be used as a tool to study poxvirus-host interactions and vector safety. IMPORTANCE SAMHD1 is a phosphohydrolase and reduces cellular dNTP concentrations, which impairs poxviral DNA replication. The simian SIV accessory protein Vpx promotes degradation of SAMHD1, leading to increased cellular dNTP concentrations. Vpx addition enables poxviral DNA replication in human dendritic cells (DCs), as well as the expression of viral late proteins, which is normally blocked. SAMHD1 function during modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) infection of human DCs was studied with recombinant MVA-vpx expressing Vpx. Infection of human DCs with MVA-vpx decreased SAMHD1 protein amounts, enabling MVA DNA replication and expression of late viral genes. Unexpectedly, type I interferon expression was blocked after MVA-vpx infection. MVA-vpx might be a good tool to study SAMHD1 depletion during poxviral infections and to provide insights into poxvirus-host interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science