Targeting the proviral host kinase, FAK, limits influenza a virus pathogenesis and NFkB-regulated pro-inflammatory responses
Influenza A virus (IAV) infections result in ∼500,000 global deaths annually. Host kinases link multiple signaling pathways at various stages of infection and are attractive therapeutic target. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a non-receptor tyrosine kinase, regulates several cellular processes including NFkB and antiviral responses. We investigated how FAK kinase activity regulates IAV pathogenesis. Using a severe infection model, we infected IAV-susceptible DBA/2 J mice with a lethal dose of H1N1 IAV. We observed reduced viral load and pro-inflammatory cytokines, delayed mortality, and increased survival in FAK inhibitor (Y15) treated mice. In vitro IAV-induced NFkB-promoter activity was reduced by Y15 or a dominant negative kinase-dead FAK mutant (FAK-KD) independently of the viral immune modulator, NS1. Finally, we observed reduced IAV-induced nuclear localization of NFkB in FAK-KD expressing cells. Our data suggest a novel mechanism where IAV hijacks FAK to promote viral replication and limit its ability to contribute to innate immune responses.