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Virology. 1999 May 25;258(1):161-75.

Mutagenesis of amino acids at two tomato ringspot nepovirus cleavage sites: effect on proteolytic processing in cis and in trans by the 3C-like protease.

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Department of Botany, The University of British Columbia, 3529-6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Tomato ringspot nepovirus (ToRSV) encodes two polyproteins that are processed by a 3C-like protease at specific cleavage sites. Analysis of ToRSV cleavage sites identified previously and in this study revealed that cleavage occurs at conserved Q/(G or S) dipeptides. In addition, a Cys or Val is found in the -2 position. Amino acid substitutions were introduced in the -6 to +1 positions of two ToRSV cleavage sites: the cleavage site between the protease and putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which is processed in cis, and the cleavage site at the N-terminus of the movement protein, which is cleaved in trans. The effect of the mutations on proteolytic processing at these sites was tested using in vitro translation systems. Substitution of conserved amino acids at the -2, -1, and +1 positions resulted in a significant reduction in proteolytic processing at both cleavage sites. The effects of individual substitutions were stronger on the cleavage site processed in trans than on the one processed in cis. The cleavage site specificity of the ToRSV protease is discussed in comparison to that of related proteases.

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