Characterization of two African horse sickness virus nonstructural proteins, NS1 and NS3
Each of the ten segments of the African horse sickness virus (AHSV) genome encodes at least one viral polypeptide. This report focuses on the nonstructural proteins NS1 and NS3, which are encoded by genome segments 5 and 10 respectively. The NS1 protein assembles into tubular structures, which are characteristically produced during orbivirus replication in infected cells. NS1 expressed by a recombinant baculovirus in Sf9 cells also forms tubules, which were analysed electron microscopically. These tubules had an average diameter of 23 ± 2 nm, which is less than half the width of the corresponding bluetongue virus (BTV) tubules. They were also more fragile at high salt concentrations or pH. The cytotoxic effects produced by NS3 were examined by constructing of mutated versions and expressing them in insect cells. Substitution of amino acids 76-81 in a conserved region (highly conserved amongst all AHSV NS3 proteins, as well as other orbiviruses) with similar amino acids, did not influence the cytotoxicity of the mutant protein. However, mutation of four amino acids, from hydrophobic to charged amino residues, (aa 165-168) in a predicted transmembrane region of NS3, largely abolished its cytotoxic effect. It is considered likely that the mutant protein is unable to interact with cellular membrane components, thereby reducing its toxicity.
KeywordsInsect Cell Genome Segment Similar Amino Acid Nonstructural Protein Recombinant Baculoviruses
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