Influenza A viruses (IAVs) are a major cause of respiratory illness and are responsible for yearly epidemics associated with more than 500,000 annual deaths globally. Novel IAVs may cause pandemic outbreaks and zoonotic infections with, for example, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of the H5N1 and H7N9 subtypes, which pose a threat to public health. Treatment options are limited and emergence of strains resistant to antiviral drugs jeopardize this even further. Like all viruses, IAVs depend on host factors for every step of the virus replication cycle. Host kinases link multiple signaling pathways in respond to a myriad of stimuli, including viral infections. Their regulation of multiple response networks has justified actively targeting cellular kinases for anti-cancer therapies and immune modulators for decades. There is a growing volume of research highlighting the significant role of cellular kinases in regulating IAV infections. Their functional role is illustrated by the required phosphorylation of several IAV proteins necessary for replication and/or evasion/suppression of the innate immune response. Identified in the majority of host factor screens, functional studies further support the important role of kinases and their potential as host restriction factors. PKC, ERK, PI3K and FAK, to name a few, are kinases that regulate viral entry and replication. Additionally, kinases such as IKK, JNK and p38 MAPK are essential in mediating viral sensor signaling cascades that regulate expression of antiviral chemokines and cytokines. The feasibility of targeting kinases is steadily moving from bench to clinic and already-approved cancer drugs could potentially be repurposed for treatments of severe IAV infections. In this review, we will focus on the contribution of cellular kinases to IAV infections and their value as potential therapeutic targets.
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