Rotavirus is an important cause of diarrheal disease in young mammals. Rotavirus species A (RVA) causes most human rotavirus diarrheal disease and primarily affects infants and young children. Rotavirus species B (RVB) has been associated with sporadic outbreaks of human adult diarrheal disease. RVA and RVB are predicted to encode mostly homologous proteins but differ significantly in the proteins encoded by the NSP1 gene. In the case of RVB, the NSP1 gene encodes two putative protein products of unknown function, NSP1-1 and NSP1-2. We demonstrate that human RVB NSP1-1 mediates syncytium formation in cultured human cells. Based on sequence alignment, NSP1-1 proteins from species B, G, and I contain features consistent with fusion-associated small transmembrane (FAST) proteins, which have previously been identified in other genera of the family. Like some other FAST proteins, RVB NSP1-1 is predicted to have an N-terminal myristoyl modification. Addition of an N-terminal FLAG peptide disrupts NSP1-1-mediated fusion. NSP1-1 from a human RVB mediates fusion of human cells but not hamster cells and, thus, may serve as a species tropism determinant. NSP1-1 also can enhance RVA replication in human cells, both in single-cycle infection studies and during a multicycle time course in the presence of fetal bovine serum, which inhibits rotavirus spread. These findings suggest potential yet untested roles for NSP1-1 in RVB species tropism, immune evasion, and pathogenesis. While species A rotavirus is commonly associated with diarrheal disease in young children, species B rotavirus has caused sporadic outbreaks of adult diarrheal disease. A major genetic difference between species A and B rotaviruses is the NSP1 gene, which encodes two proteins for species B rotavirus. We demonstrate that the smaller of these proteins, NSP1-1, can mediate fusion of cultured human cells. Comparison with viral proteins of similar function provides insight into NSP1-1 domain organization and fusion mechanism. These comparisons suggest that there is a fatty acid modification at the amino terminus of the protein, and our results show that an intact amino terminus is required for NSP1-1-mediated fusion. NSP1-1 from a human virus mediates fusion of human cells, but not hamster cells, and enhances species A rotavirus replication in culture. These findings suggest potential, but currently untested, roles for NSP1-1 in RVB host species tropism, immune evasion, and pathogenesis.
Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.