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J Virol. 1988 Sep;62(9):3328-33.

Mutations in Rous sarcoma virus nucleocapsid protein p12 (NC): deletions of Cys-His boxes.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


Rous sarcoma virus nucleocapsid protein p12 (NC) contains two conserved amino acid motifs, the Cys-His boxes, which constitute potential metal-binding domains. To try to understand the function of NC and of each of its Cys-His boxes during the viral life cycle, particularly in viral RNA packaging, we have used synthetic oligonucleotides to delete precisely either the proximal or the distal box, or both Cys-His boxes. The mutant DNAs were transfected into chicken embryo fibroblasts, and the virions produced in a transient assay were characterized biochemically for production of viral proteins and particles, RNA packaging, and infectivity. The results indicated the following. (i) The deletion of either the proximal or the distal box decreases the amount of viral RNA packaged in the particles and results in incomplete 70S dimer formation. (ii) The deletion of both boxes inhibits viral RNA packaging. (iii) The deletion of the proximal, but not the distal, box suppresses any detectable infectivity, while the deletion of the distal, but not the proximal, box lowers infectivity 100 to 200 times.

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