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Published July 1990 | public
Journal Article

Synthesis and processing of the nonstructural polyproteins of several temperature-sensitive mutants of Sindbis virus


We have examined the synthesis and processing of nonstructural polyproteins by several temperature-sensitive mutants of Sindbis virus, representing the four known RNA-minus complementation groups. Four mutants that possess mutations in the C-terminal domain of nonstructural protein nsP2 all demonstrated aberrant processing patterns when cells infected with these mutants were shifted from a permissive (30°) to a nonpermissive (40°) temperature. Mutants tsl7, tsl8, and ts24 showed severe defects in processing of nonstructural polyproteins at 40°, whereas ts7 showed only a minor defect. In each case, cleavage of the bond between nsP2 and nsP3 was greatly reduced whereas cleavage between nsP1 and nsP2 occurred almost normally, giving rise to a set of polyprotein precursors not seen in wild-type-infected cells at this stage of infection. The nsP1 produced by these mutants was unstable and only small amounts could be detected in infected cells at the nonpermissive temperature. Submolar quantities of nsP2 were also present. We suggest that nsP1 and nsP2 may function as a complex and that free nsP1, and possibly nsP2, is degraded. Cleavage between nsP3 and nsP4 appeared to be normal in the mutants except in the case of tsl7, where upon shift to 40° P34 was unstable and nsP4 accumulated. We propose that the change in the P34/nsP4 ratio upon shift is responsible for the previously observed temperature sensitivity of subgenomic 26 S RNA synthesis in tsl7 and for the failure of the mutant to regulate minus strand synthesis at 40°. Other mutations tested, including ts21, which is found in the N-terminal half of nsP2, ts11, which has a mutation in nsP1, and ts6, which has a mutation in nsP4, all demonstrated nonstructural polyprotein processing indistinguishable from that in wild-type-infected cells. These results support our conclusion, based upon deletion mapping studies, that the C-terminal domain of nsP2 contains the nonstructural proteinase activity.

Additional Information

© 1990 Academic Press, Inc. Received November 7. 1989; accepted March 13, 1990. This work has been supported by Grants AI-10793 and AI-20612 from the National Institutes of Health, and by Grant DMB8617372 from the National Science Foundation. R. J. de Groot was supported by fellowship AL TF 280-1988 from the European Molecular Biology Organization.

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