PERK signal-modulated protein translation promotes the survivability of dengue 2 virus-infected mosquito cells and extends viral replication

Jiun Nan Hou, Tien Huang Chen, Yi Hsuan Chiang, Jing Yun Peng, Tsong Han Yang, Chih Chieh Cheng, Eny Sofiyatun, Cheng Hsun Chiu, Chuan Chiang-Ni*, Wei June Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

17 Scopus citations


Survival of mosquitoes from dengue virus (DENV) infection is a prerequisite of viral transmission to the host. This study aimed to see how mosquito cells can survive the infection during prosperous replication of the virus. In C6/36 cells, global protein translation was shut down after infection by DENV type 2 (DENV2). However, it returned to a normal level when infected cells were treated with an inhibitor of the protein kinase RNA (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK) signaling pathway. Based on a 7-Methylguanosine 5′-triphosphate (m7GTP) pull-down assay, the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4F (eIF4F) complex was also identified in DENV2-infected cells. This suggests that most mosquito proteins are synthesized via canonical cap-dependent translation. When the PERK signal pathway was inhibited, both accumulation of reactive oxygen species and changes in the mitochondrial membrane potential increased. This suggested that ER stress response was alleviated through the PERK-mediated shutdown of global proteins in DENV2-infected C6/36 cells. In the meantime, the activities of caspases-9 and -3 and the apoptosis-related cell death rate increased in C6/36 cells with PERK inhibition. This reflected that the PERK-signaling pathway is involved in determining cell survival, presumably by reducing DENV2-induced ER stress. Looking at the PERK downstream target, α-subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2α), an increased phosphorylation status was only shown in infected C6/36 cells. This indicated that recruitment of ribosome binding to the mRNA 5′-cap structure could have been impaired in cap-dependent translation. It turned out that shutdown of cellular protein translation resulted in a pro-survival effect on mosquito cells in response to DENV2 infection. As synthesis of viral proteins was not affected by the PERK signal pathway, an alternate mode other than cap-dependent translation may be utilized. This finding provides insights into elucidating how the PERK signal pathway modulates dynamic translation of proteins and helps mosquito cells survive continuous replication of the DENV2. It was ecologically important for virus amplification in mosquitoes and transmission to humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number262
Issue number9
StatePublished - 20 09 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cell survival
  • Dengue 2 virus
  • EIF2α phosphorylation
  • ER stress alleviation
  • Mosquito cells
  • PERK signaling pathway
  • Protein translation


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