The influenza A virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase produces capped and polyadenylated mRNAs in the nucleus of infected cells that resemble mature cellular mRNAs, but are made by very different mechanisms. Furthermore, only two of the 10 viral protein-coding mRNAs are spliced: most are intronless, while two contain unremoved introns. The mechanism(s) by which any of these mRNAs are exported from the nucleus is uncertain. To probe the involvement of the primary cellular mRNA export pathway, we treated cells with siRNAs against NXF1, Aly or UAP56, or with the drug 5,6-dichloro-1---ribofuranosyl-benzimidazole (DRB), an inhibitor of RNA polymerase II phosphorylation previously shown to inhibit nuclear export of cellular mRNA as well as influenza virus segment 7 mRNAs. Depletion of NXF1 or DRB treatment had similar effects, inhibiting the nuclear export of several of the viral mRNAs. However, differing degrees of sensitivity were seen, depending on the particular segment examined. Intronless HA mRNA and spliced M2 or unspliced M1 transcripts (all encoding late proteins) showed a strong requirement for NXF1, while intronless early gene mRNAs, especially NP mRNA, showed the least dependency. Depletion of Aly had little effect on viral mRNA export, but reduction of UAP56 levels strongly inhibited trafficking and/or translation of the M1, M2 and NS1 mRNAs. Synthesis of NS2 from the spliced segment 8 transcript was, however, resistant. We conclude that influenza A virus co-opts the main cellular mRNA export pathway for a subset of its mRNAs, including most but not all late gene transcripts.


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