Baculovirus IE2 interacts with viral DNA through DaxX to generate an organized nuclear body structure for gene activation in Vero cells

Sung Chan Wei, Chih Hsuan Tsai, Wei Ting Hsu, Yu Chan Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Upon virus infection of a cell, the uncoated DNA is usually blocked by the host intrinsic immune system inside the nucleus. Although it is crucial for the virus to counteract the host intrinsic immune system and access its genome, little is known about how viruses can knock down host restriction and identify their blocked genomes for later viral gene activation and replication. We found that upon baculovirus transduction into Vero E6 cells, the invading viral DNA is trapped by the cellular death domain-associated protein (Daxx) and histone H3.3 in the nucleus, resulting in gene inactivation. IE2, a baculovirus transactivator, targets host Daxx through IE2 SUMO-interacting motifs (SIMs) to indirectly access viral DNA and forms unique nuclear body structures, which we term clathrate cage-like apparatus (CCLAs), at the early transduction stage. At the later transduction stage, CCLAs gradually enlarge, and IE2 continues to closely interact with viral DNA but no longer associates with Daxx. The association with Daxx is essential for IE2 CCLA formation, and the enlarged CCLAs are capable of transactivating viral but not chromosomal DNA of Vero E6 cells. Our study reveals that baculovirus IE2 counteracts the cellular intrinsic immune system by specifically targeting Daxx and H3.3 to associate with viral DNA indirectly and efficiently. IE2 then utilizes this association with viral DNA to establish a unique CCLA cellular nanomachinery, which is visible under light microscopy as an enclosed environment for proper viral gene expression. IMPORTANCE The major breakthrough of this work is that viral protein IE2 localizes and transactivates its own viral DNA through a most unlikely route, i.e., host proteins Daxx and H3.3, which are designed to efficiently restrict viral DNA from expression. By interacting with these host intrinsic immune factors, IE2 can thus target the viral DNA and then form a unique spherical nuclear body, which we name the CCLA, to enclose the viral DNA and necessary factors to assist in high-level transactivation. Our study represents one of the most complete investigations of nuclear body formation. In addition, so far only RNA or protein molecules have been reported as potential nucleators for initiating nuclear body formation; our study may represent the first example showing that DNA can be a nucleator for a new class of nuclear body formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberY
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'Baculovirus IE2 interacts with viral DNA through DaxX to generate an organized nuclear body structure for gene activation in Vero cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this