The antiviral adaptor proteins Cardif and Trif are processed and inactivated by caspases
The outcome of a viral infection depends on the interplay between the host's capacity to trigger potent antiviral responses and viral mechanisms that counteract them. Although Toll-like receptor (TLR)-3, which recognizes virally derived double-stranded (ds) RNA, transmits downstream antiviral signaling through the TIR adaptor Trif (TICAM-1), viral RNA-sensing RIG-like helicases (RLHs) use the mitochondrial-bound CARD protein Cardif (IPS-1/MAVS/VISA). The importance of these two antiviral signaling pathways is reflected by the fact that both adaptors are inhibited through specific cleavage triggered by the hepatitis C virus serine protease NS3-4A. Here, we show that inactivation can also occur through cellular caspases activated by various pro-apoptotic signals. Upon caspase-dependent cleavage both adaptors loose their capacity to activate the transcription factors interferon regulatory factors (IRF) and NF-kappaB. Importantly, poliovirus infection triggers a caspase-dependent cleavage of Cardif, suggesting that some viruses may activate caspases not only as a mean to facilitate shedding and replication, but also to impair antiviral responses.