Virology, Nebraska Center for


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JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Nov. 2011, p. 11588–11600, Vol. 85, No. 22


Copyright © 2011, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


The barrier to autointegration factor (BAF) is an essential cellular protein with functions in mitotic nuclear reassembly, retroviral preintegration complex stability, and transcriptional regulation. Molecular properties of BAF include the ability to bind double-stranded DNA in a sequence-independent manner, homodimerize, and bind proteins containing a LEM domain. These capabilities allow BAF to compact DNA and assemble higher-order nucleoprotein complexes, the nature of which is poorly understood. Recently, it was revealed that BAF also acts as a potent host defense against poxviral DNA replication in the cytoplasm. Here, we extend these observations by examining the molecular mechanism through which BAF acts as a host defense against vaccinia virus replication and cytoplasmic DNA in general. Interestingly, BAF rapidly relocalizes to transfected DNA from a variety of sources, demonstrating that BAF’s activity as a host defense factor is not limited to poxviral infection. BAF’s relocalization to cytoplasmic foreign DNA is highly dependent upon its DNA binding and dimerization properties but does not appear to require its LEM domain binding activity. However, the LEM domain protein emerin is recruited to cytoplasmic DNA in a BAF-dependent manner during both transfection and vaccinia virus infection. Finally, we demonstrate that the DNA binding and dimerization capabilities of BAF are essential for its function as an antipoxviral effector, while the presence of emerin is not required. Together, these data provide further mechanistic insight into which of BAF’s molecular properties are employed by cells to impair the replication of poxviruses or respond to foreign DNA in general.