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Zebrafish NIK Mediates IFN Induction by Regulating Activation of IRF3 and NF-kappaB

Chen B, Li C, Yao J, Shi L, Liu W, Wang F, Huo S, Zhang Y, Lu Y, Ashraf U, Ye J, Liu X
J Immunol. 2020 Apr 1;204(7):1881-1891. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1900561. Epub 2020 Feb 17
Type I IFN mediates the innate immune system to provide defense against viral infections. NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) potentiates the basal activation of endogenous STING, which facilitates the recruitment of TBK1 with the ectopically expressed IRF3 to induce IFN production. Moreover, NIK phosphorylates IKKα and confers its ability to phosphorylate p100 (also known as NF-κB2) in mammals. Our study demonstrated that NIK plays a critical role in IFN production in teleost fish. It was found that NIK interacts with IKKα in the cytoplasm and that IKKα phosphorylates the NIK at the residue Thr432, which is different from the mammals. Overexpression of NIK caused the activation of IRF3 and NF-κB, which in turn led to the production of IFN and IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). Furthermore, the ectopic expression of NIK was observed to be associated with a reduced replication of the fish virus, whereas silencing of endogenous NIK had an opposite effect in vitro. Furthermore, NIK knockdown significantly reduced the expression of IFN and key ISGs in zebrafish larvae after spring viremia of carp virus infection. Additionally, the replication of spring viremia of carp virus was enhanced in NIK knockdown zebrafish larvae, leading to a lower survival rate. In summary, our findings revealed a previously undescribed function of NIK in activating IFN and ISGs as a host antiviral response. These findings may facilitate the establishment of antiviral therapy to combat fish viruses.
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