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Genome-wide screens are powerful approaches to unravel new regulators of viral infections. Here, we used a CRISPR/Cas9 screen to reveal new HIV-1 inhibitors. This approach led us to identify the RNA helicase DDX42 as an intrinsic antiviral inhibitor. DDX42 was previously described as a non-processive helicase, able to bind RNA secondary structures such as G- quadruplexes, with no clearly defined function ascribed. Our data show that depletion of endogenous DDX42 significantly increased HIV-1 DNA accumulation and infection in cell lines and primary cells. DDX42 overexpression inhibited HIV-1, whereas a dominant-negative mutant increased infection. Importantly, DDX42 also restricted retrotransposition of LINE-1, infection with other retroviruses and positive-strand RNA viruses, including CHIKV and SARS-CoV-2. However, DDX42 did not inhibit infection with three negative-strand RNA viruses, arguing against a general, unspecific effect on target cells, which was confirmed by RNA-seq analysis. DDX42 was found in the vicinity of viral elements by proximity ligation assays, and cross-linking RNA immunoprecipitation confirmed a specific interaction of DDX42 with RNAs from sensitive viruses. This strongly suggested a direct mode of action of DDX42 on viral ribonucleoprotein complexes. Taken together, our results show for the first time a new and important role of DDX42 in intrinsic antiviral immunity.

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