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J Gen Virol. 2005 Jun;86(Pt 6):1609-17.

Reduced expression of the rotavirus NSP5 gene has a pleiotropic effect on virus replication.

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Departamento de Genética del Desarrollo y Fisiología Molecular, Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Avenida Universidad 2001, Col. Chamilpa, Cuernavaca, Morelos 62210, Mexico.


Rotavirus RRV gene 11 encodes two non-structural proteins, NSP5 and NSP6. NSP5 is a phosphorylated non-structural protein that binds single- and double-stranded RNA in a non-specific manner. Transient expression of this protein in uninfected cells has provided evidence for its participation in the formation of electron-dense cytoplasmic structures, known as viroplasms, which are thought to be key structures for the replication of the virus. NSP6 is a protein of unknown function that seems not to be essential for virus replication in cell culture. To study the function of NSP5 in the context of a viral infection, the expression of RRV gene 11 was silenced by RNA interference. Reduction in the synthesis of NSP5, as shown by immunoblot and immunofluorescence assays, correlated with a reduction in the number and size of viroplasms and with an altered intracellular distribution of other viroplasm-associated proteins. Silencing of gene 11 also resulted in a reduced synthesis of viral RNA(+) and double-stranded RNA and of all viral proteins, as well as in a decreased production of infectious virus. A similar phenotype was observed when the NSP5 coding gene of the lapine rotavirus strain Alabama was silenced. The fact that the NSP5 gene of rotavirus Alabama lacks the AUG initiator codon for a complete NSP6 protein, suggests that the described phenotype in gene 11-silenced cells is mostly due to the absence of NSP5. The data presented in this work suggest that NSP5 is a key protein during the replication cycle of rotaviruses.

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