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Published July 1989 | Published
Journal Article Open

Mapping of RNA- temperature-sensitive mutants of Sindbis virus: assignment of complementation groups A, B, and G to nonstructural proteins


Four complementation groups of temperature-sensitive (ts) mutants of Sindbis virus that fail to make RNA at the nonpermissive temperature are known, and we have previously shown that group F mutants have defects in nsP4. Here we map representatives of groups A, B, and G. Restriction fragments from a full-length clone of Sindbis virus, Toto1101, were replaced with the corresponding fragments from the various mutants. These hybrid plasmids were transcribed in vitro by SP6 RNA polymerase to produce infectious RNA transcripts, and the virus recovered was tested for temperature sensitivity. After each lesion was mapped to a specific region, cDNA clones of both mutants and revertants were sequenced in order to determine the precise nucleotide change responsible for each mutation. Synthesis of viral RNA and complementation by rescued mutants were also examined in order to study the phenotype of each mutation in a uniform genetic background. The single mutant of group B, ts11, had a defect in nsP1 (Ala-348 to Thr). All of the group A and group G mutants examined had lesions in nsP2 (Ala-517 to Thr in ts17, Cys-304 to Tyr in ts21, and Gly-736 to Ser in ts24 for three group A mutants, and Phe-509 to Leu in ts18 and Asp-522 to Asn in ts7 for two group G mutants). In addition, ts7 had a change in nsP3 (Phe-312 to Ser) which also rendered the virus temperature sensitive and RNA-. Thus, changes in any of the four nonstructural proteins can lead to failure to synthesize RNA at a nonpermissive temperature, indicating that all four are involved in RNA synthesis. From the results presented here and from previous results, several of the activities of the nonstructural proteins can be deduced. It appears that nsP1 may be involved in the initiation of minus-strand RNA synthesis. nsP2 appears to be involved in the initiation of 26S RNA synthesis, and in addition it appears to be a protease that cleaves the nonstructural polyprotein precursors. It may also be involved in shutoff of minus-strand RNA synthesis. nsP4 appears to function as the viral polymerase or elongation factor. The functions of nsP3 are as yet unresolved.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1989 by the American Society for Microbiology. Received 21 February 1989/Accepted 31 March 1989 The expert technical assistance of E. M. Lenches is gratefully acknowledged. This work was supported by Public Health Service grants AI10793 and AI20612 from the National Institutes of Health and by grant BMD8617372 from the National Science Foundation.

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