The ongoing unprecedented severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak worldwide has highlighted the need for understanding viral-host interactions involved in mechanisms of virulence. Here, we show that the virulence factor Nsp1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 interacts with the host messenger RNA (mRNA) export receptor heterodimer NXF1-NXT1, which is responsible for nuclear export of cellular mRNAs. Nsp1 prevents proper binding of NXF1 to mRNA export adaptors and NXF1 docking at the nuclear pore complex. As a result, a significant number of cellular mRNAs are retained in the nucleus during infection. Increased levels of NXF1 rescues the Nsp1-mediated mRNA export block and inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection. Thus, antagonizing the Nsp1 inhibitory function on mRNA export may represent a strategy to restoring proper antiviral host gene expression in infected cells.
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