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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(2):1075-83.

Initiation of poliovirus negative-strand RNA synthesis requires precursor forms of p2 proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610-0245, USA.


The replication proteins encoded in the P2 region of the poliovirus genome induce extensive rearrangement of cellular membranes into vesicles and are a required component of viral RNA replication complexes. To identify distinct viral protein(s) from the P2 region of the genome that were required to form functional RNA replication complexes, the P2 proteins were expressed in addition to P3 in HeLa S10 translation-RNA replication reactions. Membrane-associated preinitiation replication complexes were isolated from these reactions and used to measure negative-strand synthesis. The formation of replication complexes capable of initiating negative-strand synthesis was observed when either P23 or when P2 and P3 were expressed in the HeLa S10 translation-replication reactions. The amount of negative-strand RNA synthesized with P2 and P3 was approximately 50% of that observed with P23. Negative-strand synthesis was not observed when the processed forms of the P2 proteins (e.g., 2A, 2B, 2C, 2AB, and 2BC) were used in various combinations in place of P2. In contrast, the expression of 2A and 2BCP3 supported negative-strand synthesis at the same level observed with P23. Therefore, functional replication complexes were formed in reaction mixtures that contained either 2A and 2BCP3 or P2 and P3. Genetic complementation analysis of P23 RNA that contained a lethal mutation in 2C confirmed these results. The expression of 2BCP3 in trans restored the replication of P23-2C(P131N) RNA to wild-type levels. The expression of P2 and P3 also complemented the replication of this mutant RNA, although very inefficiently. Complementation was not observed in reactions that contained P2 alone, 2BC, or 2C. Based on these results, we propose that RNA replication complexes are initially formed with the primary cleavage products of P23 (i.e., P2 and P3 or 2A and 2BCP3), and that 2A and 2BCP3 are preferentially used in this process.

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