Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Microbiology and Immunology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Edward Harhaj

Second Committee Member

Kenneth Fields

Third Committee Member

Wasif N. Khan

Fourth Committee Member

Diana M. Lopez

Fifth Committee Member

Shunbin Ning

Sixth Committee Member

Khaled Tolba


A key feature of the innate antiviral immune response is a rapid nonspecific response to virus infection largely mediated by the induction and extracellular secretion of type I interferons (IFNs) that restrict virus replication. Cytoplasmic sensors such as RIG-I recognize viral RNA and trigger antiviral signaling pathways that upregulate IFN transcription. However, it remains largely unknown how antiviral signaling is negatively regulated to maintain homeostasis after the elimination of virus. We have identified the RING domain-containing protein RING finger 11 (RNF11) as a novel negative regulator of innate antiviral signaling. Overexpression of RNF11 downregulated IFN-β expression and enhanced viral replication whereas siRNA-mediated knockdown of RNF11 suppressed viral replication. RNF11 interacted with the noncanonical IKK kinases TBK1/IKKi and attenuated their Lys63-linked polyubiquitination by blocking interactions with the E3 ligase TRAF3. The inhibitory function of RNF11 was dependent on the ubiquitin-binding adaptor molecule TAX1BP1 which was required for RNF11 to target TBK1/IKKi. Collectively, these results indicate that RNF11 functions together with TAX1BP1 to restrict antiviral signaling and IFN-β production. The human T cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) inhibits host antiviral signaling pathways although the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We found that the HTLV-I Tax oncoprotein induced the expression of SOCS1, an inhibitor of interferon signaling. Tax required NF-κB, but not CREB, to induce the expression of SOCS1 in T cells. Furthermore, Tax interacted with SOCS1 in both transfected cells and in HTLV-I transformed cell lines. Although SOCS1 is normally a short-lived protein, in the presence of Tax, the stability of SOCS1 was greatly increased. Accordingly, Tax enhanced the replication of a heterologous virus, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), in a SOCS1-dependent manner. Surprisingly, Tax required SOCS1 to inhibit RIG-I-dependent antiviral signaling, but not the interferon-induced JAK/STAT pathway. Inhibition of SOCS1 by RNA-mediated interference in the HTLV-I transformed cell line MT-2 resulted in increased IFN-β expression accompanied by reduced HTLV-I replication and p19Gag levels. Taken together, our results reveal that Tax inhibits antiviral signaling, in part, by hijacking an interferon regulatory protein.


RNF11; Antiviral Signaling; HTLV-1 Tax; SOCS1