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J Virol. 2018 Feb 12;92(5). pii: e01824-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01824-17. Print 2018 Mar 1.

Subcellular Localization and Functional Characterization of GII.4 Norovirus-Encoded NTPase.

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Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang-Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Department of Pediatrics, Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Department of Respiratory Care, Chang-Gung University of Science and Technology, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Department of Pediatric Surgery, Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital, Chiayi, Taiwan.
School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, College of Medicine, Chang-Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang-Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Department of Nephrology, Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital, Chiayi, Taiwan.


The genotype II.4 (GII.4) variants of human noroviruses (HuNVs) are recognized as the major agent of global gastroenteritis outbreaks. Due to the lack of an efficient cell culture system for HuNV propagation, the exact roles of HuNV-encoded nonstructural proteins (including Nterm, NTPase, P22, VPg, Pro, and RdRp) in viral replication or pathogenesis have not yet been fully understood. Here, we report the molecular characterization of the GII.4 HuNV-encoded NTPase (designated GII-NTPase). Results from our studies showed that GII-NTPase forms vesicular or nonvesicular textures in the cell cytoplasm, and the nonvesicular fraction of GII-NTPase significantly localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) or mitochondria. Deletion analysis revealed that the N-terminal 179-amino-acid (aa) region of GII-NTPase is required for vesicle formation and for ER colocalization, whereas the C-terminal region is involved in mitochondrial colocalization. In particular, two mitochondrion-targeting domains were identified in the C-terminal region of GII-NTPase which perfectly colocalized with mitochondria when the N-terminal region of GII-NTPase was deleted. However, the corresponding C-terminal portions of NTPase derived from the GI HuNV did not show mitochondrial colocalization. We also found that GII-NTPase physically interacts with itself as well as with Nterm and P22, but not VPg, Pro, and RdRp, in cells. The Nterm- and P22-interacting region was mapped to the N-terminal 179-aa region of GII-NTPase, whereas the self-assembly of GII-NTPase could be achieved via a head-to-head, tail-to-tail, or head-to-tail configuration. More importantly, we demonstrate that GII-NTPase possesses a proapoptotic activity, which can be further enhanced by coexpression with Nterm or P22.IMPORTANCE Despite the importance of human norovirus GII.4 variants in global gastroenteritis outbreaks, the basic biological functions of the viral nonstructural proteins in cells remain rarely investigated. In this report, we focus our studies on characteristics of the GII.4 norovirus-encoded NTPase (GII-NTPase). We unexpectedly find that GII-NTPase can perfectly colocalize with mitochondria after its N-terminal region is deleted. However, such a phenomenon is not observed for NTPase encoded by a GI strain. We further reveal that the N-terminal 179-aa region of GII-NTPase is sufficient to mediate (i) vesicle formation, (ii) ER colocalization, (iii) the interaction with two other nonstructural proteins, including Nterm and P22, (iv) the formation of homodimers or homo-oligomers, and (v) the induction of cell apoptosis. Taken together, our findings emphasize that the virus-encoded NTPase must have multiple activities during viral replication or pathogenesis; however, these activities may vary somewhat among different genogroups.


NTPase; Nterm; P22; apoptosis; mitochondria; norovirus

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