Glycine 184 in nonstructural protein NS1 determines the virulence of influenza A virus strain PR8 without affecting the host interferon response

Sabine Steidle, Luis Martínez-Sobrido, Markus Mordstein, Stefan Lienenklaus, Adolfo García-Sastre, Peter Stäheli, Georg Kochs

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Abstract

The nonstructural protein NS1 of influenza A virus counteracts the interferon (IFN) system and thereby promotes viral replication. NS1 has acquired different mechanisms to limit induction of IFN. It prevents double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and RIG-I-mediated activation of interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), and it blocks posttranscriptional processing of cellular mRNAs by binding to the cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor (CPSF). Using a mouse-adapted A/PR/8/34 virus and reverse genetics to introduce specific mutations in NS1 which eliminate one or both functions, we determined the relative contributions of these two activities of NS1 to viral virulence in mice. We found that a functional RNA-binding motif was required for IFN suppression and virulence. Restoration of CPSF binding in the NS1 protein of wild-type A/PR/8/34 virus, which cannot bind CPSF due to mutations in the central binding motif at positions 103 and 106, resulted in enhanced virulence. Surprisingly, if CPSF binding was abolished by substituting glycine for arginine at position 184 in the classical NS1-CPSF binding motif, the mutant virus replicated much more slowly in mice, although the mutated NS1 protein continued to repress the IFN response very efficiently. Our results show that a functional RNA-binding motif is decisive for NS1 of A/PR/8/34 virus to suppress IFN induction. They further demonstrate that in addition to its contribution to CPSF binding, glycine 184 strongly influences viral virulence by an unknown mechanism which does not involve the IFN system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12761-12770
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume84
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010

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