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1.  Functional Specialization and Evolution of Leader Proteinases in the Family Closteroviridae 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(24):12153-12160.
Members of the Closteroviridae and Potyviridae families of the plant positive-strand RNA viruses encode one or two papain-like leader proteinases. In addition to a C-terminal proteolytic domain, each of these proteinases possesses a nonproteolytic N-terminal domain. We compared functions of the several leader proteinases using a gene swapping approach. The leader proteinase (L-Pro) of Beet yellows virus (BYV; a closterovirus) was replaced with L1 or L2 proteinases of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV; another closterovirus), P-Pro proteinase of Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV; a crinivirus), and HC-Pro proteinase of Tobacco etch virus (a potyvirus). Each foreign proteinase efficiently processed the chimeric BYV polyprotein in vitro. However, only L1 and P-Pro, not L2 and HC-Pro, were able to rescue the amplification of the chimeric BYV variants. The combined expression of L1 and L2 resulted in an increased RNA accumulation compared to that of the parental BYV. Remarkably, this L1-L2 chimera exhibited reduced invasiveness and inability to move from cell to cell. Similar analyses of the BYV hybrids, in which only the papain-like domain of L-Pro was replaced with those derived from L1, L2, P-Pro, and HC-Pro, also revealed functional specialization of these domains. In subcellular-localization experiments, distinct patterns were observed for the leader proteinases of BYV, CTV, and LIYV. Taken together, these results demonstrated that, in addition to a common proteolytic activity, the leader proteinases of closteroviruses possess specialized functions in virus RNA amplification, virus invasion, and cell-to-cell movement. The phylogenetic analysis suggested that functionally distinct L1 and L2 of CTV originated by a gene duplication event.
PMCID: PMC116111  PMID: 11711606
2.  Regulation of Closterovirus Gene Expression Examined by Insertion of a Self-Processing Reporter and by Northern Hybridization 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(10):7988-7993.
A reporter open reading frame (ORF) coding for a fusion of bacterial β-glucuronidase (GUS) with a proteinase domain (Pro) derived from tobacco etch potyvirus was utilized for tagging individual genes of beet yellows closterovirus (BYV). Insertion of this reporter ORF between the first and second codons of the BYV ORFs encoding the HSP70 homolog (HSP70h), a major capsid protein (CP), and a 20-kDa protein (p20) resulted in the expression of the processed GUS-Pro reporter from corresponding subgenomic RNAs. The high sensitivity of GUS assays permitted temporal analysis of reporter accumulation, revealing early expression from the HSP70h promoter, followed by the CP promoter and later the p20 promoter. The kinetics of transcription of the remaining BYV genes encoding a 64-kDa protein (p64), a minor capsid protein (CPm), and a 21-kDa protein (p21) were examined via Northern blot analysis. Taken together, the data indicated that the temporal regulation of BYV gene expression includes early (HSP70h, CPm, CP, and p21 promoters) and late (p64 and p20 promoters) phases. It was also demonstrated that the deletion of six viral genes that are nonessential for RNA amplification resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of transcription from one of the two remaining subgenomic promoters. Comparison with other positive-strand RNA viruses producing multiple subgenomic RNAs showed the uniqueness of the pattern of closterovirus transcriptional regulation.
PMCID: PMC112813  PMID: 10482546
3.  Beet yellows virus replicase and replicative compartments: parallels with other RNA viruses 
In eukaryotic virus systems, infection leads to induction of membranous compartments in which replication occurs. Virus-encoded subunits of the replication complex mediate its interaction with membranes. As replication platforms, RNA viruses use the cytoplasmic surfaces of different membrane compartments, e.g., endoplasmic reticulum (ER), Golgi, endo/lysosomes, mitochondria, chloroplasts, and peroxisomes. Closterovirus infections are accompanied by formation of multivesicular complexes from cell membranes of ER or mitochondrial origin. So far the mechanisms for vesicles formation have been obscure. In the replication-associated 1a polyprotein of Beet yellows virus (BYV) and other closteroviruses, the region between the methyltransferase and helicase domains (1a central region (CR), 1a CR) is marginally conserved. Computer-assisted analysis predicts several putative membrane-binding domains in the BYV 1a CR. Transient expression of a hydrophobic segment (referred to here as CR-2) of the BYV 1a in Nicotiana benthamiana led to reorganization of the ER and formation of ~1-μm mobile globules. We propose that the CR-2 may be involved in the formation of multivesicular complexes in BYV-infected cells. This provides analogy with membrane-associated proteins mediating the build-up of “virus factories” in cells infected with diverse positive-strand RNA viruses (alpha-like viruses, picorna-like viruses, flaviviruses, and nidoviruses) and negative-strand RNA viruses (bunyaviruses).
PMCID: PMC3589766  PMID: 23508802
RNA virus replication; membrane vesicles; virus replication factory; endoplasmic reticulum modification; intracellular traffic
4.  Leader Proteinase of Beet Yellows Virus Functions in Long-Distance Transport 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(5):2843-2849.
The 66-kDa leader proteinase (L-Pro) of the Beet yellows virus (BYV) possesses a nonconserved N-terminal domain and a conserved, papain-like C-terminal domain. Previous work revealed that the N-terminal domain functions in RNA amplification, whereas the C-terminal domain is required for autoproteolysis. Alanine-scanning mutagenesis was applied to complete the functional analysis of L-Pro throughout the virus life cycle. This analysis indicated that the C-terminal domain of L-Pro, in addition to being required for proteolysis, also functions in RNA amplification and that these two functions are genetically separable. Examination of the role of L-Pro in BYV cell-to-cell movement revealed that none of the 20 examined replication-competent mutants was movement defective. In contrast, six of the L-Pro mutations affected the long-distance transport of BYV to various degrees, whereas three mutations completely abolished the transport. Because these mutations were located throughout the protein molecule, both domains of L-Pro function in virus transport. We conclude that in addition to previously identified functions of L-Pro, it also serves as the BYV long-distance transport factor.
PMCID: PMC149760  PMID: 12584307
5.  Rubella Virus Nonstructural Protein Protease Domains Involved in trans- and cis-Cleavage Activities 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(12):5412-5423.
Rubella virus (RV) genomic RNA contains two large open reading frames (ORFs): a 5′-proximal ORF encoding nonstructural proteins (NSPs) that function primarily in viral RNA replication and a 3′-proximal ORF encoding the viral structural proteins. Proteolytic processing of the RV NSP ORF translation product p200 is essential for viral replication. Processing of p200 to two mature products (p150 and p90) in the order NH2-p150-p90-COOH is carried out by an RV-encoded protease residing in the C-terminal region of p150. The RV nonstructural protease (NS-pro) belongs to a viral papain-like protease family that cleaves the polyprotein both in trans and in cis. A conserved X domain of unknown function was found from previous sequence analysis to be associated with NS-pro. To define the domains responsible for cis- and trans-cleavage activities and the function of the X domain in terms of protease activity, an in vitro translation system was employed. We demonstrated that the NSP region from residue 920 to 1296 is necessary for trans-cleavage activity. The domain from residue 920 to 1020 is not required for cis-cleavage activity. The X domain located between residues 834 and 940, outside the regions responsible for both cis- and trans-cleavage activities of NS-pro, was found to be important for NS-pro trans-cleavage activity but not for cis-cleavage activity. Analysis of sequence homology and secondary structure of the RV NS-pro catalytic region reveals a folding structure similar to that of papain.
PMCID: PMC112025  PMID: 10823845
6.  The 64-Kilodalton Capsid Protein Homolog of Beet Yellows Virus Is Required for Assembly of Virion Tails 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(4):2377-2384.
The filamentous virion of the closterovirus Beet yellows virus (BYV) consists of a long body formed by the major capsid protein (CP) and a short tail composed of the minor capsid protein (CPm) and the virus-encoded Hsp70 homolog. By using nano-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and biochemical analyses, we show here that the BYV 64-kDa protein (p64) is the fourth integral component of BYV virions. The N-terminal domain of p64 is exposed at the virion surface and is accessible to antibodies and mild trypsin digestion. In contrast, the C-terminal domain is embedded in the virion and is inaccessible to antibodies or trypsin. The C-terminal domain of p64 is shown to be homologous to CP and CPm. Mutation of the signature motifs of capsid proteins of filamentous RNA viruses in p64 results in the formation of tailless virions, which are unable to move from cell to cell. These results reveal the dual function of p64 in tail assembly and BYV motility and support the concept of the virion tail as a specialized device for BYV cell-to-cell movement.
PMCID: PMC141117  PMID: 12551975
7.  The closterovirus-derived gene expression and RNA interference vectors as tools for research and plant biotechnology 
Important progress in understanding replication, interactions with host plants, and evolution of closteroviruses enabled engineering of several vectors for gene expression and virus-induced gene silencing. Due to the broad host range of closteroviruses, these vectors expanded vector applicability to include important woody plants such as citrus and grapevine. Furthermore, large closterovirus genomes offer genetic capacity and stability unrivaled by other plant viral vectors. These features provided immense opportunities for using closterovirus vectors for the functional genomics studies and pathogen control in economically valuable crops. This review briefly summarizes advances in closterovirus research during the last decade, explores the relationships between virus biology and vector design, and outlines the most promising directions for future application of closterovirus vectors.
PMCID: PMC3622897  PMID: 23596441
viral vector; closteroviruses; RNAi; Beet yellows virus; Citrus tristeza virus; Grapevine leafroll-associated virus-2
8.  Crinivirus replication and host interactions 
Criniviruses comprise one of the genera within the family Closteroviridae. Members in this family are restricted to the phloem and rely on whitefly vectors of the genera Bemisia and/or Trialeurodes for plant-to-plant transmission. All criniviruses have bipartite, positive-sense single-stranded RNA genomes, although there is an unconfirmed report of one having a tripartite genome. Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV) is the type species of the genus, the best studied so far of the criniviruses and the first for which a reverse genetics system was developed. LIYV RNA 1 encodes for proteins predicted to be involved in replication, and alone is competent for replication in protoplasts. Replication results in accumulation of cytoplasmic vesiculated membranous structures which are characteristic of most studied members of the Closteroviridae. These membranous structures, often referred to as Beet yellows virus (BYV)-type vesicles, are likely sites of RNA replication. LIYV RNA 2 is replicated in trans when co-infecting cells with RNA 1, but is temporally delayed relative to RNA 1. Efficient RNA 2 replication also is dependent on the RNA 1-encoded RNA-binding protein, P34. No LIYV RNA 2-encoded proteins have been shown to affect RNA replication, but at least four, CP (major coat protein), CPm (minor coat protein), Hsp70h, and P59 are virion structural components and CPm is a determinant of whitefly transmissibility. Roles of other LIYV RNA 2-encoded proteins are largely as yet unknown, but P26 is a non-virion protein that accumulates in cells as characteristic plasmalemma deposits which in plants are localized within phloem parenchyma and companion cells over plasmodesmata connections to sieve elements. The two remaining crinivirus-conserved RNA 2-encoded proteins are P5 and P9. P5 is 39 amino acid protein and is encoded at the 5′ end of RNA 2 as ORF 1 and is part of the hallmark closterovirus gene array. The orthologous gene in BYV has been shown to play a role in cell-to-cell movement and indicated to be localized to the endoplasmic reticulum as a Type III integral membrane protein. The other small protein, P9, is encoded by ORF 4 overlaps with ORF 3 that encodes the structural protein, P59. P9 seems to be unique to viruses in the genus Crinivirus, as no similar protein has been detected in viruses of the other two genera of the Closteroviridae.
PMCID: PMC3657685  PMID: 23730299
phloem-limited; plasmalemma deposit; whitefly vector; Crinivirus; quintuple gene block
9.  Leader Proteinase of the Beet Yellows Closterovirus: Mutation Analysis of the Function in Genome Amplification 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(20):9766-9770.
The beet yellows closterovirus leader proteinase (L-Pro) possesses a C-terminal proteinase domain and a nonproteolytic N-terminal domain. It was found that although L-Pro is not essential for basal-level replication, deletion of its N-terminal domain resulted in a 1,000-fold reduction in RNA accumulation. Mutagenic analysis of the N-terminal domain revealed its structural flexibility except for the 54-codon-long, 5′-terminal element in the corresponding open reading frame that is critical for efficient RNA amplification at both RNA and protein levels.
PMCID: PMC112412  PMID: 11000252
10.  3'-coterminal subgenomic RNAs and putative cis-acting elements of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 reveals 'unique' features of gene expression strategy in the genus Ampelovirus 
Virology Journal  2010;7:180.
The family Closteroviridae comprises genera with monopartite genomes, Closterovirus and Ampelovirus, and with bipartite and tripartite genomes, Crinivirus. By contrast to closteroviruses in the genera Closterovirus and Crinivirus, much less is known about the molecular biology of viruses in the genus Ampelovirus, although they cause serious diseases in agriculturally important perennial crops like grapevines, pineapple, cherries and plums.
The gene expression and cis-acting elements of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3; genus Ampelovirus) was examined and compared to that of other members of the family Closteroviridae. Six putative 3'-coterminal subgenomic (sg) RNAs were abundantly present in grapevine (Vitis vinifera) infected with GLRaV-3. The sgRNAs for coat protein (CP), p21, p20A and p20B were confirmed using gene-specific riboprobes in Northern blot analysis. The 5'-termini of sgRNAs specific to CP, p21, p20A and p20B were mapped in the 18,498 nucleotide (nt) virus genome and their leader sequences determined to be 48, 23, 95 and 125 nt, respectively. No conserved motifs were found around the transcription start site or in the leader sequence of these sgRNAs. The predicted secondary structure analysis of sequences around the start site failed to reveal any conserved motifs among the four sgRNAs. The GLRaV-3 isolate from Washington had a 737 nt long 5' nontranslated region (NTR) with a tandem repeat of 65 nt sequence and differed in sequence and predicted secondary structure with a South Africa isolate. Comparison of the dissimilar sequences of the 5'NTRs did not reveal any common predicted structures. The 3'NTR was shorter and more conserved. The lack of similarity among the cis-acting elements of the diverse viruses in the family Closteroviridae is another measure of the complexity of their evolution.
The results indicate that transcription regulation of GLRaV-3 sgRNAs appears to be different from members of the genus Closterovirus. An analysis of the genome sequence confirmed that GLRaV-3 has an unusually long 5'NTR of 737 nt compared to other monopartite members of the family Closteroviridae, with distinct differences in the sequence and predicted secondary structure when compared to the corresponding region of the GLRaV-3 isolate from South Africa.
PMCID: PMC2922190  PMID: 20682046
11.  Rubella virus-like replicon particles: analysis of encapsidation determinants and non-structural roles of capsid protein in early post-entry replication 
The Journal of General Virology  2012;93(Pt 3):516-525.
Rubella virus (RUBV) contains a plus-strand RNA genome with two ORFs, one encoding the non-structural replicase proteins (NS-ORF) and the second encoding the virion structural proteins (SP-ORF). This study describes development and use of a trans-encapsidation system for the assembly of infectious RUBV-like replicon particles (VRPs) containing RUBV replicons (self replicating genomes with the SP-ORF replaced with a reporter gene). First, this system was used to map signals within the RUBV genome that mediate packaging of viral RNA. Mutations within a proposed packaging signal did not significantly affect relative packaging efficiency. The insertion of various fragments derived from the RUBV genome into Sindbis virus replicons revealed that there are several regions within the RUBV genome capable of enhancing encapsidation of heterologous replicon RNAs. Secondly, the trans-encapsidation system was used to analyse the effect of alterations within the capsid protein (CP) on release of VRPs and subsequent initiation of replication in newly infected cells. Deletion of the N-terminal eight amino acids of the CP reduced VRP titre significantly, which could be partially complemented by native CP provided in trans, indicating that this mutation affected an entry or post-entry event in the replication cycle. To test this hypothesis, the trans-encapsidation system was used to demonstrate the rescue of a lethal deletion within P150, one of the virus replicase proteins, by CP contained within the virus particle. This novel finding substantiated the functional role of CP in early post-entry replication.
PMCID: PMC3352351  PMID: 22113006
12.  Discovery of a small arterivirus gene that overlaps the GP5 coding sequence and is important for virus production 
The Journal of General Virology  2011;92(Pt 5):1097-1106.
The arterivirus family (order Nidovirales) of single-stranded, positive-sense RNA viruses includes porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus and equine arteritis virus (EAV). Their replicative enzymes are translated from their genomic RNA, while their seven structural proteins are encoded by a set of small, partially overlapping genes in the genomic 3′-proximal region. The latter are expressed via synthesis of a set of subgenomic mRNAs that, in general, are functionally monocistronic (except for a bicistronic mRNA encoding the E and GP2 proteins). ORF5, which encodes the major glycoprotein GP5, has been used extensively for phylogenetic analyses. However, an in-depth computational analysis now reveals the arterivirus-wide conservation of an additional AUG-initiated ORF, here termed ORF5a, that overlaps the 5′ end of ORF5. The pattern of substitutions across sequence alignments indicated that ORF5a is subject to functional constraints at the amino acid level, while an analysis of substitutions at synonymous sites in ORF5 revealed a greatly reduced frequency of substitution in the portion of ORF5 that is overlapped by ORF5a. The 43–64 aa ORF5a protein and GP5 are probably expressed from the same subgenomic mRNA, via a translation initiation mechanism involving leaky ribosomal scanning. Inactivation of ORF5a expression by reverse genetics yielded a severely crippled EAV mutant, which displayed lower titres and a tiny plaque phenotype. These defects, which could be partially complemented in ORF5a-expressing cells, indicate that the novel protein, which may be the eighth structural protein of arteriviruses, is expressed and important for arterivirus infection.
PMCID: PMC3139419  PMID: 21307223
13.  Complete Genome Sequence and Analyses of the Subgenomic RNAs of Sweet Potato Chlorotic Stunt Virus Reveal Several New Features for the Genus Crinivirus 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(18):9260-9270.
The complete nucleotide sequences of genomic RNA1 (9,407 nucleotides [nt]) and RNA2 (8,223 nt) of Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV; genus Crinivirus, family Closteroviridae) were determined, revealing that SPCSV possesses the second largest identified positive-strand single-stranded RNA genome among plant viruses after Citrus tristeza virus. RNA1 contains two overlapping open reading frames (ORFs) that encode the replication module, consisting of the putative papain-like cysteine proteinase, methyltransferase, helicase, and polymerase domains. RNA2 contains the Closteroviridae hallmark gene array represented by a heat shock protein homologue (Hsp70h), a protein of 50 to 60 kDa depending on the virus, the major coat protein, and a divergent copy of the coat protein. This grouping resembles the genome organization of Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV), the only other crinivirus for which the whole genomic sequence is available. However, in striking contrast to LIYV, the two genomic RNAs of SPCSV contained nearly identical 208-nt-long 3′ terminal sequences, and the ORF for a putative small hydrophobic protein present in LIYV RNA2 was found at a novel position in SPCSV RNA1. Furthermore, unlike any other plant or animal virus, SPCSV carried an ORF for a putative RNase III-like protein (ORF2 on RNA1). Several subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) were detected in SPCSV-infected plants, indicating that the sgRNAs formed from RNA1 accumulated earlier in infection than those of RNA2. The 5′ ends of seven sgRNAs were cloned and sequenced by an approach that provided compelling evidence that the sgRNAs are capped in infected plants, a novel finding for members of the Closteroviridae.
PMCID: PMC136465  PMID: 12186910
14.  Norovirus Regulation of the Innate Immune Response and Apoptosis Occurs via the Product of the Alternative Open Reading Frame 4 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(12):e1002413.
Small RNA viruses have evolved many mechanisms to increase the capacity of their short genomes. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a novel open reading frame (ORF4) encoded by the murine norovirus (MNV) subgenomic RNA, in an alternative reading frame overlapping the VP1 coding region. ORF4 is translated during virus infection and the resultant protein localizes predominantly to the mitochondria. Using reverse genetics we demonstrated that expression of ORF4 is not required for virus replication in tissue culture but its loss results in a fitness cost since viruses lacking the ability to express ORF4 restore expression upon repeated passage in tissue culture. Functional analysis indicated that the protein produced from ORF4 antagonizes the innate immune response to infection by delaying the upregulation of a number of cellular genes activated by the innate pathway, including IFN-Beta. Apoptosis in the RAW264.7 macrophage cell line was also increased during virus infection in the absence of ORF4 expression. In vivo analysis of the WT and mutant virus lacking the ability to express ORF4 demonstrated an important role for ORF4 expression in infection and virulence. STAT1-/- mice infected with a virus lacking the ability to express ORF4 showed a delay in the onset of clinical signs when compared to mice infected with WT virus. Quantitative PCR and histopathological analysis of samples from these infected mice demonstrated that infection with a virus not expressing ORF4 results in a delayed infection in this system. In light of these findings we propose the name virulence factor 1, VF1 for this protein. The identification of VF1 represents the first characterization of an alternative open reading frame protein for the calicivirus family. The immune regulatory function of the MNV VF1 protein provide important perspectives for future research into norovirus biology and pathogenesis.
Author Summary
This report describes the identification and characterization of a novel protein of unknown function encoded by a mouse virus genetically similar to human noroviruses. This gene is unique to the mouse virus and occupies the same part of the genome that codes for the major capsid protein. The protein that we have described as virulence factor 1 (VF1) is found in all murine norovirus isolates, absent in all human strains but is indeed expressed during infection. Its expression enables MNV-1 to establish efficient infection of its natural host through interference with interferon-mediated response pathways and apoptosis. Our data would indicate that the VF1 protein is multi-functional with an ability to modulate the host's response to infection. Murine noroviruses are frequently used firstly as a model to study human norovirus replication and pathogenesis, studies hampered by their inability to replicate in cell culture. Secondly, persistent infection of laboratory animals with murine norovirus may affect other models of disease using experimental mice. The role of VF1 in infection and pathology in the differential outcome of infection is the source of continued research in our laboratory.
PMCID: PMC3234229  PMID: 22174679
15.  Molecular characterization of the 3' terminus of the simian hemorrhagic fever virus genome. 
Journal of Virology  1995;69(4):2679-2683.
The 3' end of the simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV) single-stranded RNA genome was cloned and sequenced. Adjacent to the 3' poly(A) tract, we identified a 76-nucleotide noncoding region preceded by two overlapping reading frames (ORFs). The ultimate 3' ORF of the viral genome encodes the capsid protein, and the penultimate ORF encodes the smallest SHFV envelope protein. These two ORFs overlap each other by 26 nucleotides. Northern (RNA) blot hybridization analyses of cytoplasmic RNA extracts from SHFV-infected MA-104 cells with gene-specific probes revealed the presence of full-length genomic RNA as well as six subgenomic SHFV-specific mRNA species. The subgenomic mRNAs are 3' coterminal. In its virion morphology and size, genome structure and length, and replication strategy, SHFV is most similar to lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus, equine arteritis virus, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.
PMCID: PMC188954  PMID: 7884922
16.  The Product of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus M2 Gene ORF1 Enhances Readthrough of Intergenic Junctions during Viral Transcription 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(1):520-526.
The mRNA encoding the M2 protein of respiratory syncytial (RS) virus contains two open reading frames (ORFs). ORF1 encodes the 22-kDa structural protein, M2, and ORF2 has the potential to encode a 10-kDa protein (90 amino acids). Using a vaccinia virus T7 expression system, we examined the RNA synthetic activities of mono- and dicistronic subgenomic replicons of RS virus by direct metabolic labeling of RNA in the presence and absence of the products of ORF1 and ORF2. In the absence of ORF1 and ORF2, the negative- and positive-sense products of genomic RNA replication and positive-sense polyadenylated mRNA(s) were synthesized. Expression of the whole M2 transcription unit (containing ORF1 and ORF2) or ORF1 alone caused an increase in the synthesis of polyadenylated mRNA, the majority of which was due to a substantial increase in the quantity of polycistronic mRNAs generated by the polymerase failing to terminate at gene end signals. In agreement with previous reports, the ORF2 product was found to inhibit viral RNA replication and mRNA transcription. These data show that the M2 protein functions as a transcriptional antiterminator that enhances the ability of the viral RNA polymerase to read through intergenic junctions. The role of such a function during the viral life cycle is discussed.
PMCID: PMC109403  PMID: 9420254
17.  Identification of the Leader-Body Junctions for the Viral Subgenomic mRNAs and Organization of the Simian Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Genome: Evidence for Gene Duplication during Arterivirus Evolution 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(1):862-867.
Simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV) was recently reclassified and assigned to the new virus family Arteriviridae. During replication, arteriviruses produce a 3′ coterminal, nested set of subgenomic mRNAs (sgRNAs). These sgRNAs arise by discontinuous transcription, and each contains a 5′ leader sequence which is joined to the body of the mRNA through a conserved junction sequence. Only the 5′-most open reading frame (ORF) is believed to be transcribed from each sgRNA. The SHFV genome encodes nine ORFs that are presumed to be expressed from sgRNAs. However, reverse transcription-PCR analysis with leader- and ORF-specific primers identified only eight sgRNA species. The consensus sequence 5′-UCNUUAACC-3′ was identified as the junction motif. Our data suggest that sgRNA 2 may be bicistronic, expressing both ORF 2a and ORF 2b. SHFV encodes three more ORFs on its genome than the other arteriviruses. Comparative sequence analysis suggested that SHFV ORFs 2a, 2b, and 3 are related to ORFs 2 through 4 of the other arteriviruses. Evidence which suggests that SHFV ORFs 4 through 6 are related to ORFs 2a through 3 and may have resulted from a recombination event during virus evolution is presented.
PMCID: PMC109450  PMID: 9420301
18.  Expression and processing of the Hepatitis E virus ORF1 nonstructural polyprotein 
Virology Journal  2006;3:38.
The ORF1 of hepatitis E virus (HEV) encodes a nonstructural polyprotein of ~186 kDa that has putative domains for four enzymes: a methyltransferase, a papain-like cysteine protease, a RNA helicase and a RNA dependent RNA polymerase. In the absence of a culture system for HEV, the ORF1 expressed using bacterial and mammalian expression systems has shown an ~186 kDa protein, but no processing of the polyprotein has been observed. Based on these observations, it was proposed that the ORF1 polyprotein does not undergo processing into functional units. We have studied ORF1 polyprotein expression and processing through a baculovirus expression vector system because of the high level expression and post-translational modification abilities of this system.
The baculovirus expressed ORF1 polyprotein was processed into smaller fragments that could be detected using antibodies directed against tags engineered at both ends. Processing of this ~192 kDa tagged ORF1 polyprotein and accumulation of lower molecular weight species took place in a time-dependent manner. This processing was inhibited by E-64d, a cell-permeable cysteine protease inhibitor. MALDI-TOF analysis of a 35 kDa processed fragment revealed 9 peptide sequences that matched the HEV methyltransferase (MeT), the first putative domain of the ORF1 polyprotein. Antibodies to the MeT region also revealed an ORF1 processing pattern identical to that observed for the N-terminal tag.
When expressed through baculovirus, the ORF1 polyprotein of HEV was processed into smaller proteins that correlated with their proposed functional domains. Though the involvement of non-cysteine protease(s) could not be be ruled out, this processing mainly depended upon a cysteine protease.
PMCID: PMC1481634  PMID: 16725054
19.  Genetic Analysis of the Pestivirus Nonstructural Coding Region: Defects in the NS5A Unit Can Be Complemented in trans 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(17):7791-7802.
The functional analysis of molecular determinants which control the replication of pestiviruses was considerably facilitated by the finding that subgenomic forms of the positive-strand RNA genome of BVDV (bovine viral diarrhea virus) are capable of autonomous replication in transfected host cells. The prototype replicon, BVDV DI9c, consists of the genomic 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions and a truncated open reading frame (ORF) encoding mainly the nonstructural proteins NS3, NS4A, NS4B, NS5A, and NS5B. To gain insight into which of these proteins are essential for viral replication and whether they act in cis or in trans, we introduced a large spectrum of in-frame mutations into the DI9c ORF. Tests of the mutant RNAs in terms of their replication capacity and their ability to support translation and cleavage of the nonstructural polyprotein, and whether defects could be rescued in trans, yielded the following results. (i) RNA replication was found to be dependent on the expression of each of the DI9c-encoded mature proteins NS3 to NS5B (and the known associated enzymatic activities). In the same context, a finely balanced molar ratio of the diverse proteolytic processing products was indicated to be crucial for the formation of an active catalytic replication complex. (ii) Synthesis of negative-strand intermediate and progeny positive-strand RNA was observed to be strictly coupled with all functional DI9c ORF derivatives. NS3 to NS5B were hence suggested to play a pivotal role even during early steps of the viral replication pathway. (iii) Mutations in the NS3 and NS4B units which generated nonfunctional or less functional RNAs were determined to be cis dominant. Likewise, lethal alterations in the NS4A and NS5B regions were invariably noncomplementable. (iv) In surprising contrast, replication of functional and nonfunctional NS5A mutants could be clearly enhanced and restored, respectively. In summary, our data provide initial insights into the organization of the pestivirus replication machinery.
PMCID: PMC115021  PMID: 11483722
20.  Proteolytic Processing of Sapovirus ORF1 Polyprotein 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(12):7283-7290.
The genome of Sapovirus (SaV), a causative agent of gastroenteritis in humans and swine, contains either two or three open reading frames (ORFs). Functional motifs characteristic to the 2C-like NTPase (NTPase), VPg, 3C-like protease (Pro), 3D-like RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (Pol), and capsid protein (VP1) are encoded in the ORF1 polyprotein, which is afterwards cleaved into the nonstructural and structural proteins. We recently determined the complete genome sequence of a novel human SaV strain, Mc10, which has two ORFs. To investigate the proteolytic cleavage of SaV ORF1 and the function of protease on the cleavage, both full-length and truncated forms of the ORF1 polyprotein either with or without mutation in 1171Cys to Ala of the GDCG motif were expressed in an in vitro coupled transcription-translation system. The translation products were analyzed directly by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis or by immunoprecipitation with region-specific antibodies. The ORF1 polyprotein was processed into at least 10 major proteins: p11, p28, p35, p32, p14, p70, p60, p66, p46, and p120. Seven of these products were arranged in the following order: NH2-p11-p28-p35(NTPase)-p32-p14(VPg)-p70(Pro-Pol)-p60(VP1)-COOH. p66, p46 and p120 were precursors of p28-p35 (NTPase), p32-p14 (VPg), and p32-p14 (VPg)-p70 (Pro-Pol), respectively. Mutagenesis in the 3C-like protease motif fully abolished the proteolytic activity. The cleavage map of SaV ORF1 is similar to those of other heretofore known members of the family Caliciviridae, especially to rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, a member of the genus Lagovirus.
PMCID: PMC1143638  PMID: 15919882
21.  The Open Reading Frame 3 Gene of Hepatitis E Virus Contains a cis-Reactive Element and Encodes a Protein Required for Infection of Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(11):6680-6689.
An infectious cDNA clone of hepatitis E virus was mutated in order to prevent synthesis of either open reading frame 2 (ORF2) protein or ORF3 protein. HuH-7 cells transfected with an ORF2-null mutant produced ORF3, and those transfected with an ORF3-null mutant produced ORF2. Silent mutations introduced into a highly conserved nucleotide sequence in the ORF3 coding region eliminated the synthesis of both ORF2 and ORF3 proteins, suggesting that it comprised a cis-reactive element. A mutant that was not able to produce ORF3 protein did not produce a detectable infection in rhesus macaques. However, a mutant that encoded an ORF3 protein lacking a phosphorylation site reported to be critical for function was able to replicate its genome in cell culture and to induce viremia and seroconversion in rhesus monkeys, suggesting that phosphorylation of ORF3 protein was not necessary for genome replication or for production of infectious virions.
PMCID: PMC1112134  PMID: 15890906
22.  Role of RNA helicases in HIV-1 replication 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(15):4198-4205.
Viruses are replication competent genomes which are relatively gene-poor. Even the largest viruses (i.e. Herpesviruses) encode only slightly >200 open reading frames (ORFs). However, because viruses replicate obligatorily inside cells, and considering that evolution may be driven by a principle of economy of scale, it is reasonable to surmise that many viruses have evolved the ability to co-opt cell-encoded proteins to provide needed surrogate functions. An in silico survey of viral sequence databases reveals that most positive-strand and double-stranded RNA viruses have ORFs for RNA helicases. On the other hand, the genomes of retroviruses are devoid of virally-encoded helicase. Here, we review in brief the notion that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) has adopted the ability to use one or more cellular RNA helicases for its replicative life cycle.
PMCID: PMC1616970  PMID: 16935887
23.  An essential fifth coding ORF in the sobemoviruses☆ 
Virology  2013;446(1-2):397-408.
The sobemoviruses have one of the smallest of all known RNA virus genomes. ORF1 encodes P1 which plays a role in suppression of silencing and virus movement, ORFs 2a and 2b encode the replicational polyproteins P2a and P2ab, and ORF3 encodes the coat protein. Translation of ORF2a from the genomic RNA is dependent on a leaky scanning mechanism. We report the presence of an additional ORF (ORFx), conserved in all sobemoviruses. ORFx overlaps the 5′ end of ORF2a in the +2 reading frame and also extends some distance upstream of ORF2a. ORFx lacks an AUG initiation codon and its expression is predicted to depend on low level initiation at near-cognate non-AUG codons, such as CUG, by a proportion of the ribosomes that are scanning the region between the ORF1 and ORF2a initiation codons. Mutations that disrupt translation of ORFx in turnip rosette virus prevent the establishment of infection.
•The plant-infecting sobemoviruses have a 4–4.5 kb genome with four know coding ORFs.•We report an additional ORF (ORFx) that is conserved in all sobemoviruses.•Translation of ORFx is predicted to depend on leaky scanning and non-AUG initiation.•Mutations that disrupt translation of ORFx prevent the establishment of infection.
PMCID: PMC3791421  PMID: 23830075
Sobemovirus; Plant virus; Translation; Non-AUG initiation; Leaky scanning
24.  Nucleotide sequence and transcript organization of a region of the vaccinia virus genome which encodes a constitutively expressed gene required for DNA replication. 
Journal of Virology  1987;61(5):1398-1406.
A vaccinia virus (VV) gene required for DNA replication has been mapped to the left side of the 16-kilobase (kb) VV HindIII D DNA fragment by marker rescue of a DNA- temperature-sensitive mutant, ts17, using cloned fragments of the viral genome. The region of VV DNA containing the ts17 locus (3.6 kb) was sequenced. This nucleotide sequence contains one complete open reading frame (ORF) and two incomplete ORFs reading from left to right. Analysis of this region at early times revealed that transcription from the incomplete upstream ORF terminates coincidentally with the complete ORF encoding the ts17 gene product, which is directly downstream. The predicted proteins encoded by this region correlate well with polypeptides mapped by in vitro translation of hybrid-selected early mRNA. The nucleotide sequences of a 1.3-kb BglII fragment derived from ts17 and from two ts17 revertants were also determined, and the nature of the ts17 mutation was identified. S1 nuclease protection studies were carried out to determine the 5' and 3' ends of the transcripts and to examine the kinetics of expression of the ts17 gene during viral infection. The ts17 transcript is present at both early and late times postinfection, indicating that this gene is constitutively expressed. Surprisingly, the transcriptional start throughout infection occurs at the proposed late regulatory element TAA, which immediately precedes the putative initiation codon ATG. Although the biological activity of the ts17-encoded polypeptide was not identified, it was noted that in ts17-infected cells, expression of a nonlinked VV immediate-early gene (thymidine kinase) was deregulated at the nonpermissive temperature. This result may indicate that the ts17 gene product is functionally required at an early step of the VV replicative cycle.
PMCID: PMC254115  PMID: 3033268
25.  Evidence for a novel coding sequence overlapping the 5'-terminal ~90 codons of the Gill-associated and Yellow head okavirus envelope glycoprotein gene 
Virology Journal  2009;6:222.
The genus Okavirus (order Nidovirales) includes a number of viruses that infect crustaceans, causing major losses in the shrimp industry. These viruses have a linear positive-sense ssRNA genome of ~26-27 kb, encoding a large replicase polyprotein that is expressed from the genomic RNA, and several additional proteins that are expressed from a nested set of 3'-coterminal subgenomic RNAs. In this brief report, we describe the bioinformatic discovery of a new, apparently coding, ORF that overlaps the 5' end of the envelope glycoprotein encoding sequence, ORF3, in the +2 reading frame. The new ORF has a strong coding signature and, in fact, is more conserved at the amino acid level than the overlapping region of ORF3. We propose that translation of the new ORF initiates at a conserved AUG codon separated by just 2 nt from the ORF3 AUG initiation codon, resulting in a novel 86 amino acid protein.
PMCID: PMC2805633  PMID: 20017924

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