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J Gen Virol. 2007 Jan;88(Pt 1):196-206.

The nine C-terminal amino acids of the respiratory syncytial virus protein P are necessary and sufficient for binding to ribonucleoprotein complexes in which six ribonucleotides are contacted per N protein protomer.

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Unité de Virologie et Immunologie Moléculaires, INRA, 78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France.


The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) phosphoprotein (P) is a major polymerase co-factor that interacts with both the large polymerase fragment (L) and the nucleoprotein (N). The N-binding domain of RSV P has been investigated by co-expression of RSV P and N proteins in Escherichia coli. Pull-down assays performed with a series of truncated forms of P fused to glutathione S-transferase (GST) revealed that the region comprising the last nine C-terminal amino acid residues of P (233-DNDLSLEDF-241) is sufficient for efficient binding to N. Site-directed mutagenesis shows that the last four residues of this peptide are crucial for binding and must be present at the end of a flexible C-terminal tail. The presence of the P oligomerization domain (residues 100-160) was an important stabilizing factor for the interaction. The tetrameric full-length P fused to GST was able to pull down both helical and ring structures, whereas a monomeric C-terminal fragment of P (residues 161-241) fused to GST pulled down exclusively RNA-N rings. Electron-microscopy analysis of the purified rings showed the presence of two types of complex: undecamers (11N) and decamers (10N). Mass-spectrometry analysis of the RNA extracted from rings after RNase A treatment showed two peaks of 22,900 and 24,820 Da, corresponding to a mean RNA length of 67 and 73 bases, respectively. These results suggest strongly that each N subunit contacts 6 nt, with an extra three or four bases further protected from nuclease digestion by the ring structure at both the 5' and 3' ends.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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