13 January 2021
PRRSV, nidovirus, poly(C)-binding protein, PCPB2, nonstructural protein 1, β, nsp1, β-, small-angle X-ray scattering, sedimentation velocity, RNA, virology, ribosome, translation, structural biology, viral replication, RNA virus, ribosome function, nsp1beta, PCBP
Programmed ribosomal frameshifting (PRF) is a mechanism used by arteriviruses like porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) to generate multiple proteins from overlapping reading frames within its RNA genome. PRRSV employs −1 PRF directed by RNA secondary and tertiary structures within its viral genome (canonical PRF), as well as a noncanonical −1 and −2 PRF that are stimulated by the interactions of PRRSV nonstructural protein 1β (nsp1β) and host protein poly(C)-binding protein (PCBP) 1 or 2 with the viral genome. Together, nsp1β and one of the PCBPs act as transactivators that bind a C-rich motif near the shift site to stimulate −1 and −2 PRF, thereby enabling the ribosome to generate two frameshift products that are implicated in viral immune evasion. How nsp1β and PCBP associate with the viral RNA genome remains unclear. Here, we describe the purification of the nsp1β:PCBP2:viral RNA complex on a scale sufficient for structural analysis using small-angle X-ray scattering and stochiometric analysis by analytical ultracentrifugation. The proteins associate with the RNA C-rich motif as a 1:1:1 complex. The monomeric form of nsp1β within the complex differs from previously reported homodimer identified by X-ray crystallography. Functional analysis of the complex via mutational analysis combined with RNA-binding assays and cell-based frameshifting reporter assays reveal a number of key residues within nsp1β and PCBP2 that are involved in complex formation and function. Our results suggest that nsp1β and PCBP2 both interact directly with viral RNA during formation of the complex to coordinate this unusual PRF mechanism.