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      The nucleocapsid protein of the SARS coronavirus is capable of self-association through a C-terminal 209 amino acid interaction domain


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          Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV) caused a severe outbreak in several regions of the world in 2003. The virus is a novel coronavirus isolated from patients exhibiting atypical pneumonia and may have originated from wild animals such as civet cats in southern China. The genome of SARS-CoV is a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA whose sequence is distantly related to all known coronaviruses that infect humans and animals. Like other known coronaviruses, SARS-CoV is an enveloped virus containing three outer structural proteins, namely the membrane (M), envelope (E), and spike (S) proteins. The nucleocapsid (N) protein together with the viral RNA genome presumably form a helical core located within the viral envelope. The SARS-CoV nucleocapsid (N) protein is a 423 amino-acid, predicted phospho-protein of 46 kDa that shares little homology with other members of the coronavirus family. A short serine-rich stretch, and a putative bipartite nuclear localization signal are unique to it, thus suggesting its involvement in many important functions during the viral life cycle. In this report we have cloned the N gene of the SARS coronavirus, and studied its property of self-association to form dimers. We expressed the N protein as a fusion protein in the yeast two-hybrid system to demonstrate self-association and confirmed dimerization of the N protein from mammalian cell lysates by coimmunoprecipitation. Furthermore, via deletion analysis, we have shown that the C-terminal 209 amino-acid region constitutes the interaction domain responsible for self-association of the N protein to form dimers.

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          Most cited references12

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          Characterization of a novel coronavirus associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome.

          P Rota (2003)
          In March 2003, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was discovered in association with cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The sequence of the complete genome of SARS-CoV was determined, and the initial characterization of the viral genome is presented in this report. The genome of SARS-CoV is 29,727 nucleotides in length and has 11 open reading frames, and its genome organization is similar to that of other coronaviruses. Phylogenetic analyses and sequence comparisons showed that SARS-CoV is not closely related to any of the previously characterized coronaviruses.
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            Activation of AP-1 signal transduction pathway by SARS coronavirus nucleocapsid protein

            In March 2003, a novel coronavirus was isolated from patients exhibiting atypical pneumonia and subsequently proven to be the causative agent of the disease now referred to as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The complete genome of the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has since been sequenced. The SARS-CoV nucleocapsid (SARS-CoV N) shares little homology with other members of the coronavirus family. To determine if the N protein is involved in the regulation of cellular signal transduction, an ELISA-based assay on transcription factors was used. We found that the amount of transcription factors binding to promoter sequences of c-Fos, ATF2, CREB-1, and FosB was increased by the expression of SARS-CoV N. Since these factors are related to AP-1 signal transduction pathway, we investigated whether the AP-1 pathway was activated by SARS-CoV N protein using the PathDetect system. The results demonstrated that the expression of N protein, not the membrane protein (M), activated AP-1 pathway. We also found that SARS-CoV N protein does not activate NF-κB pathway, demonstrating that activation of important cellular pathways by SAS-CoV N protein is selective. Thus our data for the first time indicate that SARS-CoV has encoded a strategy to regulate cellular signaling process.
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              Homo-oligomerization of the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus nucleocapsid protein and the role of disulfide linkages.

              As a step toward understanding the assembly pathway of the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), the oligomeric properties of the nucleocapsid (N) protein were investigated. In this study, we have demonstrated that under nonreducing conditions the N protein forms disulfide-linked homodimers. However, inclusion of an alkylating agent (N-ethylmaleimide [NEM]) prevented disulfide bond formation, suggesting that these intermolecular disulfide linkages were formed as a result of spurious oxidation during cell lysis. In contrast, N protein homodimers isolated from extracellular virions were shown to have formed NEM-resistant intermolecular disulfide linkages, the function of which is probably to impart stability to the virion. Pulse-chase analysis revealed that N protein homodimers become specifically disulfide linked within the virus-infected cell, albeit at the later stages of infection, conceivably when the virus particle buds into the oxidizing environment of the endoplasmic reticulum. Moreover, NEM-resistant disulfide linkages were shown to occur only during productive PRRSV infection, since expression of recombinant N protein did not result in the formation of NEM-resistant disulfide-linked homodimers. Mutational analysis indicated that of the three conserved cysteine residues in the N protein, only the cysteine at position 23 was involved in the formation of disulfide linkages. The N protein dimer was shown to be stable both in the presence and absence of intermolecular disulfide linkages, indicating that noncovalent interactions also play a role in dimerization. Non-disulfide-mediated N protein interactions were subsequently demonstrated both in vitro by the glutathione S-transferase (GST) pull-down assay and in vivo by the mammalian two-hybrid assay. Using a series of N protein deletion mutants fused to GST, amino acids 30 to 37 were shown to be essential for N-N interactions. Furthermore, since RNase A treatment markedly decreased N protein-binding affinity, it appears that at least in vitro, RNA may be involved in bridging N-N interactions. In cross-linking experiments, the N protein was shown to assemble into higher-order structures, including dimers, trimers, tetramers, and pentamers. Together, these findings demonstrate that the N protein possesses self-associative properties, and these likely provide the basis for PRRSV nucleocapsid assembly.

                Author and article information

                Biochem Biophys Res Commun
                Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun
                Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
                Elsevier Inc.
                12 April 2004
                14 May 2004
                12 April 2004
                : 317
                : 4
                : 1030-1036
                [a ]Virology Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Aruna Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi 110067, India
                [b ]Microbiology Department, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore 117597, Singapore
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. Fax: +91-11-2616-2316 sunillal@ 123456icgeb.res.in
                Copyright © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                : 1 March 2004

                sars coronavirus,protein–protein interaction,yeast two-hybrid system,nucleocapsid protein


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