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J Virol. 1997 Dec;71(12):9608-17.

trans-Complementation of yellow fever virus NS1 reveals a role in early RNA replication.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110-1093, USA.


Mutational analysis of the nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) of yellow fever virus (YF) has implicated it in viral RNA replication. To further explore this observation, we sought a method for uncoupling NS1 function from NS1 expression and processing as part of the large YF polyprotein. Here we describe a strategy for providing NS1 in trans, utilizing a noncytopathic Sindbis virus vector. Replication of a defective YF genome containing a large in-frame deletion of NS1 was dependent on functional expression of NS1. Recovered mutant virus was shown to contain the deletion and was neutralized by YF-specific antiserum. Complemented mutant virus increased in titer with kinetics similar to those of parental YF 17D but peaked at lower titers. trans-complementation has allowed us to derive high-titer, helper-free stocks of YF defective in NS1 with which to further characterize the role of this gene product in RNA replication. The first cycles of RNA replication were analyzed by using a sensitive strand-specific RNase protection assay. We document these events for mutant and wild-type viruses in the presence or absence of complementation. These data strongly suggest a role for NS1 prior to or at initial minus-strand synthesis.

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