Dimerization of Coronavirus nsp9 with diverse modes enhances its nucleic acid binding affinity

June 20, 2018

Zeng, Z., Deng, F., Shi, K. et al.

Journal of Virology 2018 vol: 92(17) doi: 10.1128/JVI.00692-18

Abstract

Coronaviruses pose serious health threats to humans and other animals. Understanding the mechanisms of their replication has important implications for global health and economic stability. Nonstructural protein 9 (nsp9) is an essential RNA binding protein for coronavirus replication. However, the mechanisms of the dimerization and nucleic acid binding of nsp9 remain elusive. Here, we report four crystal structures, including wild-type porcine delta coronavirus (PDCoV) nsp9, PDCoV nsp9-ΔN7 (N-terminal 7 amino acids deleted), wild-type porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) nsp9, and PEDV nsp9-C59A mutant. These structures reveal the diverse dimerization forms of coronavirus nsp9. We first found that the N-finger of nsp9 from PDCoV plays a critical role in dimerization. Meanwhile, PEDV nsp9 is distinguished by the presence of a disulfide bond in the dimer interface. Interestingly, size exclusion chromatography and analytical ultracentrifugation analyses indicate that the PDCoV nsp9-ΔN7 and PEDV nsp9-C59A mutants are monomeric in solution. In addition, electrophoretic mobility shift assays and microscale thermophoresis analysis indicate that the monomeric forms of PDCoV nsp9 and PEDV nsp9 still have nucleic acid binding affinity, although it is lower than that of the wild type. Our results show that the diverse dimerization forms of coronavirus nsp9 proteins enhance their nucleic acid binding affinity.

IMPORTANCE Coronaviruses cause widespread respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system diseases in humans and other animals, threatening human health and causing economic loss. Coronavirus nsp9, a member of the replication complex, is an important RNA binding subunit in the RNA-synthesizing machinery of all coronaviruses. However, the mechanisms of the dimerization and nucleic acid binding of nsp9 remain elusive. In this study we determined the nsp9 crystal structures of PDCoV and PEDV. We first found that the N-finger of nsp9 from PDCoV plays a critical role in dimerization. Meanwhile, PEDV nsp9 is distinguished by the presence of a disulfide bond in the dimer interface. This study provides a structural and functional basis for understanding the mechanism of dimerization and shows that the diverse dimerization modes of coronavirus nsp9 proteins enhance their nucleic acid binding affinity. Importantly, these findings may provide a new insight for antiviral drug development.

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Topics: Virology, Monolith – MicroScale Thermophoresis, MST,  Publications

 

 

 

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