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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 7;283(45):30677-88. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806101200. Epub 2008 Sep 8.

Picornavirus genome replication: roles of precursor proteins and rate-limiting steps in oriI-dependent VPg uridylylation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


The 5' ends of all picornaviral RNAs are linked covalently to the genome-encoded peptide, VPg (or 3B). VPg linkage is thought to occur in two steps. First, VPg serves as a primer for production of diuridylylated VPg (VPg-pUpU) in a reaction catalyzed by the viral polymerase that is templated by an RNA element (oriI). It is currently thought that the viral 3AB protein is the source of VPg in vivo. Second, VPg-pUpU is transferred to the 3' end of plus- and/or minus-strand RNA and serves as primer for production of full-length RNA. Nothing is known about the mechanism of transfer. We present biochemical and biological evidence refuting the use of 3AB as the donor for VPg uridylylation. Our data are consistent with precursors 3BC and/or 3BCD being employed for uridylylation. This conclusion is supported by in vitro uridylylation of these proteins, the ability of a mutant replicon incapable of producing processed VPg to replicate in HeLa cells and cell-free extracts and corresponding precursor processing profiles, and the demonstration of 3BC-linked RNA in mutant replicon-transfected cells. These data permit elaboration of our model for VPg uridylylation to include the use of precursor proteins and invoke a possible mechanism for location of the diuridylylated, VPg-containing precursor at the 3' end of plus- or minus-strand RNA for production of full-length RNA. Finally, determinants of VPg uridylylation efficiency suggest formation and/or collapse or release of the uridylylated product as the rate-limiting step in vitro depending upon the VPg donor employed.

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