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Export of RNA-derived modified nucleosides by equilibrative nucleoside transporters defines the magnitude of autophagy response and Zika virus replication
RNA Biology  (IF4.652),  Pub Date : 2021-08-12, DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2021.1960689


RNA contains a wide variety of posttranscriptional modifications covalently attached to its base or sugar group. These modified nucleosides are liberated from RNA molecules as the consequence of RNA catabolism and released into extracellular space, but the molecular mechanism of extracellular transport and its pathophysiological implications have been unclear. In the present study, we discovered that RNA-derived modified nucleosides are exported to extracellular space through equilibrative nucleoside transporters 1 and 2 (ENT1 and ENT2), with ENT1 showing higher preference for modified nucleosides than ENT2. Pharmacological inhibition or genetic deletion of ENT1 and ENT2 significantly attenuated export of modified nucleosides thereby resulting in their accumulation in cytosol. Using mutagenesis strategy, we identified an amino acid residue in ENT1 that is involved in the discrimination of unmodified and modified nucleosides. In ENTs-deficient cells, the elevated levels of intracellular modified nucleosides were closely associated with an induction of autophagy response as evidenced by increased LC3-II level. Importantly, we performed a screening of modified nucleosides capable of inducing autophagy and found that 1-methylguanosine (m1G) was sufficient to induce LC3-II levels. Pathophysiologically, defective export of modified nucleosides drastically induced Zika virus replication in an autophagy-dependent manner. In addition, we also found that pharmacological inhibition of ENTs by dilazep significantly induced Zika virus replication. Collectively, our findings highlight RNA-derived modified nucleosides as important signaling modulators that activate autophagy response and indicate that defective export of these modified nucleoside can have profound consequences for pathophysiology.