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J Virol. 1999 Feb;73(2):1649-54.

Characterization of soluble hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase expressed in Escherichia coli.

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Antiviral Therapy, Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, New Jersey 07033-0539, USA.


Production of soluble full-length nonstructural protein 5B (NS5B) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been shown to be problematic and requires the addition of salts, glycerol, and detergents. In an effort to improve the solubility of NS5B, the hydrophobic C terminus containing 21 amino acids was removed, yielding a truncated NS5B (NS5BDeltaCT) which is highly soluble and monodispersed in the absence of detergents. Fine deletional analysis of this region revealed that a four-leucine motif (LLLL) in the hydrophobic domain is responsible for the solubility profile of the full-length NS5B. Enzymatic characterization revealed that the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) activity of this truncated NS5B was comparable to those reported previously by others. For optimal enzyme activity, divalent manganese ions (Mn2+) are preferred rather than magnesium ions (Mg2+), whereas zinc ions (Zn2+) inhibit the RdRp activity. Gliotoxin, a known poliovirus 3D RdRp inhibitor, inhibited HCV NS5B RdRp in a dose-dependent manner. Kinetic analysis revealed that HCV NS5B has a rather low processivity compared to those of other known polymerases.

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