Murine hepatitis virus nonstructural protein 4 regulates virus-induced membrane modifications and replication complex function.

Gadlage MJ, Sparks JS, Beachboard DC, Cox RG, Doyle JD, Stobart CC, Denison MR
J Virol. 2010 84 (1): 280-90

PMID: 19846526 · PMCID: PMC2798404 · DOI:10.1128/JVI.01772-09

Positive-strand RNA viruses induce modifications of cytoplasmic membranes to form replication complexes. For coronaviruses, replicase nonstructural protein 4 (nsp4) has been proposed to function in the formation and organization of replication complexes. Murine hepatitis virus (MHV) nsp4 is glycosylated at residues Asn176 (N176) and N237 during plasmid expression of nsp4 in cells. To test if MHV nsp4 residues N176 and N237 are glycosylated during virus replication and to determine the effects of N176 and N237 on nsp4 function and MHV replication, alanine substitutions of nsp4 N176, N237, or both were engineered into the MHV-A59 genome. The N176A, N237A, and N176A/N237A mutant viruses were viable, and N176 and N237 were glycosylated during infection of wild-type (wt) and mutant viruses. The nsp4 glycosylation mutants exhibited impaired virus growth and RNA synthesis, with the N237A and N176A/N237A mutant viruses demonstrating more profound defects in virus growth and RNA synthesis. Electron microscopic analysis of ultrastructure from infected cells demonstrated that the nsp4 mutants had aberrant morphology of virus-induced double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) compared to those infected with wt virus. The degree of altered DMV morphology directly correlated with the extent of impairment in viral RNA synthesis and virus growth of the nsp4 mutant viruses. The results indicate that nsp4 plays a critical role in the organization and stability of DMVs. The results also support the conclusion that the structure of DMVs is essential for efficient RNA synthesis and optimal replication of coronaviruses.

MeSH Terms (10)

Coronaviridae Glycosylation Intracellular Membranes Microscopy, Electron Murine hepatitis virus Mutant Proteins Mutation, Missense RNA, Viral Viral Nonstructural Proteins Virus Replication

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