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Virology. 1995 Jun 1;209(2):420-7.

Characterisation and mutational analysis of an ORF 1a-encoding proteinase domain responsible for proteolytic processing of the infectious bronchitis virus 1a/1b polyprotein.

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Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Coronavirus gene expression involves proteolytic processing of the mRNA 1-encoded polyproteins by viral and cellular proteinases. Recently, we have demonstrated that an ORF 1b-encoded 100-kDa protein is proteolytically cleaved from the 1a/1b fusion polyprotein by a viral-specific proteinase of the picornavirus 3C proteinase group (3C-like proteinase). In this report, the 3C-like proteinase has been further analysed by internal deletion of a 2.3-kb fragment between the 3C-like proteinase-encoding region and ORF 1b and by substitution mutations of its catalytic centre as well as the two predicted cleavage sites flanking the 100-kDa protein. The results show that internal deletion of ORF 1a sequences from nucleotide 9911 to 12227 does not influence the catalytic activity of the proteinase in processing of the 1a/1b polyprotein to the 100-kDa protein species. Site-directed mutagenesis studies have confirmed that the predicted nucleophilic cysteine residue (Cys2922) and a histidine residue encoded by ORF 1a from nucleotide 8985 to 8987 (His2820) are essential for the catalytic activity of the proteinase, and that the QS(G) dipeptide bonds are its target cleavage sites. Substitution mutations of the third component of the putative catalytic triad, the glutamic acid 2843 (Glu2843) residue, however, do not affect the processing to the 100-kDa protein. In addition, cotransfection experiment shows that the 3C-like proteinase is capable of trans-cleavage of the 1a/1b polyprotein. These studies have confirmed the involvement of the 3C-like proteinase domain in processing of the 1a/1b polyprotein, the predicted catalytic centre of the proteinase, and its cleavage sites.

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