Viruses battle for control over the cellular protein synthesis machineryHost cell fights back by controlling which mRNAs are translatedTechnical advances will identify new roles for translation in innate immunity
In the early stages of infection, gaining control of the cellular protein synthesis machinery including its ribosomes is the ultimate combat objective for a virus. To successfully replicate, viruses unequivocally need to usurp and redeploy this machinery for translation of their own mRNA. In response, the host triggers global shutdown of translation while paradoxically allowing swift synthesis of antiviral proteins as a strategy to limit collateral damage. This fundamental conflict at the level of translational control defines the outcome of infection. As part of this special issue on molecular mechanisms of early virus–host cell interactions, we review the current state of knowledge regarding translational control during viral infection with specific emphasis on protein kinase RNA-activated and mammalian target of rapamycin-mediated mechanisms. We also describe recent technological advances that will allow unprecedented insight into how viruses and host cells battle for ribosomes.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute