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Mammalian poxviruses, including vaccinia virus (VACV), have evolved multiple mechanisms to evade the host type I interferon (IFN) responses at different levels, with viral proteins targeting IFN induction, signaling, and antiviral effector functions. Avian poxviruses (avipoxviruses), which have been developed as recombinant vaccine vectors for permissive (i.e., poultry) and nonpermissive (i.e., mammals, including humans) species, encode no obvious equivalents of any of these proteins. We show that fowlpox virus (FWPV) fails to induce chicken beta IFN (ChIFN2) and is able to block its induction by transfected poly(I·C), an analog of cytoplasmic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). A broad-scale loss-of-function genetic screen was used to find FWPV-encoded modulators of poly(I·C)-mediated ChIFN2 induction. It identified fpv012, a member of a family of poxvirus genes highly expanded in the avipoxviruses (31 in FWPV; 51 in canarypox virus [CNPV], representing 15% of the total gene complement), encoding proteins containing N-terminal ankyrin repeats (ANKs) and C-terminal F-box-like motifs. Under ectopic expression, the first ANK of fpv012 is dispensable for inhibitory activity and the CNPV ortholog is also able to inhibit induction of ChIFN2. FWPV defective in fpv012 replicates well in culture and barely induces ChIFN2 during infection, suggesting that other factors are involved in blocking IFN induction and resisting the antiviral effectors. Nevertheless, unlike parental and revertant viruses, the mutants induce moderate levels of expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), suggesting either that there is sufficient ChIFN2 expression to partially induce the ISGs or the involvement of alternative, IFN-independent pathways that are also normally blocked by fpv012.

Original publication




Journal article


J virol

Publication Date





5041 - 5052


Animals, Ankyrin Repeat, Chick Embryo, Chickens, Fowlpox, Fowlpox virus, Gene Library, Interferon-beta, Mutation, Poultry Diseases, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Viral Proteins