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Novel functions of the alphavirus nonstructural protein nsP3 C-terminal region

By Margus Varjak, Eva Zusinaite and Andres Merits


The functions of the alphavirus-encoded nonstructural protein nsP3 during infection are poorly understood. In contrast, nsP1, nsP2, and nsP4 have known enzymatic activities and functions. A functional analysis of the C-terminal region of nsP3 of Semliki Forest virus revealed the presence of a degradation signal that overlaps with a sequence element located between nsP3 and nsP4 that is required for proteolytic processing. This element was responsible for the short half-life (1 h) of individually expressed nsP3, and it also was functionally transferable to other proteins. Inducible cell lines were used to express native nsP3 or truncated mutants. The removal of 10 C-terminal amino acid (aa) residues from nsP3 increased the half-life of the protein approximately 8-fold. While the deletion of 30 C-terminal aa residues resulted in a similar stabilization, this deletion also changed the cellular localization of nsP3. This truncated mutant no longer exhibited a punctate localization in the cytoplasm, but instead filamentous stretches could be formed around the nuclei of induced cells, suggesting the existence of an additional functional element upstream of the degradation signal. C-terminally truncated uncleavable polyprotein P12CA3del30 was localized diffusely, which is in contrast to P12CA3, which is known to be associated with vesicle membranes. The induction of nsP3 or its truncated forms reduced the efficiency of virus multiplication in corresponding cells by affecting different steps of the infection cycle. The expression of nsP3 or a mutant lacking the 10 C-terminal aa residues repressed the establishment of infection, while the expression of nsP3 lacking 30 C-terminal aa residues led to the reduced synthesis of subgenomic RNA

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 2010
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Provided by: Enlighten
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