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J Mol Model. 2014 Mar;20(3):2092. doi: 10.1007/s00894-014-2092-0. Epub 2014 Feb 19.

Steered molecular dynamics identifies critical residues of the Nodamura virus B2 suppressor of RNAi.

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Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 24061-0308, USA,


Nearly all RNA viruses produce double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) during their replication cycles--an important pathogen-associated molecular pattern recognized by the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway in invertebrates and plants. Nodamura virus (NoV) encodes a suppressor of RNA silencing termed B2, which binds to dsRNA and prevents the initiation of RNAi as well as the loading of silencing complexes. Using the published crystal structure of NoV-B2, we performed a series of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to determine the relative electrostatic and van der Waals contributions of various residues in binding dsRNA, identifying four novel potential interactors: R56, E48, P68 and R69. Additionally, steered MD was used to simulate the binding affinity of NoV-B2 sequences bearing substitutions at positions F49, R56 or R59 to dsRNA, with F49S and R56L/R59L substitutions found to have a significant negative impact on the ability of NoV-B2 to bind dsRNA. NoV RNA1 variants were tested for self-directed replication in both vertebrate (RNAi⁻) and invertebrate (RNAi⁺) cultured cells. Consistent with a role in dsRNA binding, NoV replication in F49C and F49S variant constructs was affected negatively only in RNAi⁺ cells. Thus, we used a combination of MD simulations and experimental mutagenesis to further characterize residues important for NoV-dsRNA interactions.

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