Differential contributions of tacaribe arenavirus nucleoprotein N-terminal and C-terminal residues to nucleocapsid functional activity

Journal of Virology
Alejandra D'AntuonoNora Lopez

Abstract

The arenavirus nucleoprotein (NP) is the main protein component of viral nucleocapsids and is strictly required for viral genome replication mediated by the L polymerase. Homo-oligomerization of NP is presumed to play an important role in nucleocapsid assembly, albeit the underlying mechanism and the relevance of NP-NP interaction in nucleocapsid activity are still poorly understood. Here, we evaluate the contribution of the New World Tacaribe virus (TCRV) NP self-interaction to nucleocapsid functional activity. We show that alanine substitution of N-terminal residues predicted to be available for NP-NP interaction strongly affected NP self-association, as determined by coimmunoprecipitation assays, produced a drastic inhibition of transcription and replication of a TCRV minigenome RNA, and impaired NP binding to RNA. Mutagenesis and functional analysis also revealed that, while dispensable for NP self-interaction, key amino acids at the C-terminal domain were essential for RNA synthesis. Furthermore, mutations at these C-terminal residues rendered NP unable to bind RNA both in vivo and in vitro but had no effect on the interaction with the L polymerase. In addition, while all oligomerization-defective variants tested exhibited...Continue Reading

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