A conserved motif at the 3' end of genomic RNA of mouse hepatitis virus required for host protein binding and viral RNA replication

Wei Yu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The initial step in coronavirus-mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) replication is the synthesis of negative strand RNA from a positive strand genomic RNA template. Our approach to studying MHV RNA replication is to identify the cis-acting signals for RNA synthesis and the protein(s) which recognizes these signals at the 3$\sp\prime$ end of genomic RNA of MHV. To determine whether host cellular and/or virus-specific proteins interact with the 3$\sp\prime$ end of the coronavirus genome, an RNase T$\sb1$ protection/gel mobility shift electrophoresis assay was used to examine cytoplasmic extracts from either mock- or MHV-JHM-infected 17Cl-1 murine cells for the ability to form complexes with defined regions of the genomic RNA. A conserved 11 nucleotide sequence UGAAUGAAGUU at nucleotide positions 36 to 26 from the 3$\sp\prime$ end of genomic RNA was identified to be responsible for the specific binding of host proteins, by using a series of RNA probes with deletions and mutations in this region. The RNA probe containing the 11 nucleotide sequence bound approximately four host cellular proteins with a highly labeled 120 kDa and three minor species with sizes of 103, 81 and 55 kDa, assayed by UV-induced covalent cross-linking. Mutation of the 11 nucleotide motif strongly inhibited cellular protein binding, and decreased the amount of the 103 and 81 kDa proteins in the complex to undetectable levels and strongly reduced the binding of the 120 kDa protein. Less extensive mutations within this 11 nucleotide motif resulted in variable decreases in RNA-protein complex formation depending on each probe tested. The RNA-protein complexes observed with cytoplasmic extracts from MHV-JHM-infected cells in both RNase protection/gel mobility shift and UV cross-linking assays were indistinguishable to those observed with extracts from uninfected cells. To investigate the possible role of this 3$\sp\prime$ protein binding element in viral RNA replication in vivo, defective interfering RNA molecules with complete or partial mutations of the 11 nucleotide conserved sequence were transcribed in vitro, transfected to host 17Cl-1 cells in the presence of helper virus MHV-JHM and analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis, competitive RT-PCR and direct sequencing of the RT-PCR products. Both negative strand synthesis and positive strand replication of DI RNA were affected by mutation that disrupts RNA-protein complex formation, even though the 11 mutated nucleotides were converted to wild type sequence, presumably by recombination with helper virus. Kinetic analysis indicated that recombination between DI RNA and helper virus occurred 5.5 to 7.5 hours post infection when replication of positive strand DI RNA was barely observed. Replication of positive strand DI RNAs carrying partial mutations within the 11 nucleotide motif was dependent upon recombination events after transfection. Replication was strongly inhibited when reversion to wild type sequence did not occur, and after recombination, reached similar levels as wild type DI RNA. A DI RNA with mutation upstream of the protein binding motif replicated as efficiently as wild type without undergoing recombination. Thus the conserved 11 nucleotide host protein binding motif appears to play an important role in viral RNA replication.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Microbiology

Recommended Citation

Yu, Wei, "A conserved motif at the 3' end of genomic RNA of mouse hepatitis virus required for host protein binding and viral RNA replication" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9601208.