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J Virol. 2011 Mar;85(6):2733-40. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02245-10. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

A single amino acid substitution in the capsid of foot-and-mouth disease virus can increase acid resistance.

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  • 1Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Cantoblanco 28049, Madrid, Spain.


Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) particles lose infectivity due to their disassembly at pH values slightly below neutrality. This acid-dependent disassembly process is required for viral RNA release inside endosomes. To study the molecular determinants of viral resistance to acid-induced disassembly, six FMDV variants with increased resistance to acid inactivation were isolated. Infection by these mutants was more sensitive to drugs that raise the endosomal pH (NH(4)Cl and concanamycin A) than was infection by the parental C-S8c1 virus, confirming that the increase in acid resistance is related to a lower pH requirement for productive uncoating. Amino acid replacement N17D at the N terminus of VP1 capsid protein was found in all six mutants. This single substitution was shown to be responsible for increased acid resistance when introduced into an infectious FMDV clone. The increased resistance of this mutant against acid-induced inactivation was shown to be due to its increased resistance against capsid dissociation into pentameric subunits. Interestingly, the N17D mutation was located close to but not at the interpentamer interfaces. The mutants described here extend the panel of FMDV variants exhibiting different pH sensitivities and illustrate the adaptive flexibility of viral quasispecies to pH variations.

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