|Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly|
The flavivirus NS2A protein is involved in the assembly of infectious particles. To further understand its role in this process, a charged-to-alanine scanning analysis was performed on NS2A encoded by an infectious cDNA clone of yellow fever virus (YFV). Fifteen mutants containing single, double, or triple charged-to-alanine changes were tested. Five of them did not produce infectious particles, whereas efficient RNA replication was detectable for two of the five NS2A mutants (R22A-K23A-R24A and R99A-E100A-R101A mutants). Prolonged cultivation of transfected cells resulted in the recovery of pseudorevertants. Besides suppressor mutants in NS2A, a compensating second-site mutation in NS3 (D343G) arose for the NS2A R22A-K23A-R24A mutant. We found this NS3 mutation previously to be suppressive for the NS2Aaalpha; cleavage site Q189S mutant, also deficient in virion assembly. In this study, the subsequently suggested interaction between NS2A and NS3 was proven by coimmunoprecipitation analyses. Using selectively permeabilized cells, we could demonstrate that the regions encompassing R22A-K23A-R24A and Q189S in NS2A are localized to the cytoplasm, where NS3 is also known to reside. However, the defect in particle production observed for the NS2A R22A-K23A-R24A and Q189S mutants was not due to a defect in physical interaction between NS2A and NS3, as the NS2A mutations did not interrupt NS3 interaction. In fact, a region just upstream of R22-K23-R24 was mapped to be critical for NS2A-NS3 interaction. Taken together, these data support a complex interplay between YFV NS2A and NS3 in virion assembly and identify a basic cluster in the NS2A N terminus to be critical in this process.
IMPORTANCE Despite an available vaccine, yellow fever remains endemic in tropical areas of South America and Africa. To control the disease, antiviral drugs are required, and an understanding of the determinants of virion assembly is central to their development. In this study, we identified a basic cluster of amino acids in the N terminus of YFV NS2A which inhibited virion assembly upon mutation. The defect was rescued by a spontaneously occurring mutation in NS3. Our study proves an interaction between NS2A and NS3, which, remarkably, was maintained for the NS2A mutant in the presence and absence of the NS3 mutation. This suggests a role for other viral and/or cellular proteins in virion assembly. Residues important for YFV virion production reported here only partially coincided with those reported for other flaviviruses, suggesting that the determinants for particle production are virus specific. Reconstruction of a YFV encoding tagged NS2A paves the way to identify further NS2A interaction partners.
Glycoprotein O (gO) is conserved among betaherpesviruses, but little is known about the maturation process of gO in human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6). We found that HHV-6 gO maturation was accompanied by cleavage of its carboxyl terminus and required coexpression of gH and gL, which promoted the export of gO out of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Finally, we also found that gO was not required for HHV-6A growth in T cells.