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Enzymatic activity of poliovirus RNA polymerases with mutations at the tyrosine residue of the conserved YGDD motif: isolation and characterization of polioviruses containing RNA polymerases with FGDD and MGDD sequences.

  • S A Jablonski
  • C D Morrow
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1993
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The poliovirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (3Dpol) shares a region of homology with all RNA polymerases, centered around the amino acid motif YGDD, which has been postulated to be involved in the catalytic activity of the enzyme. Using oligonucleotide site-directed mutagenesis, we substituted the tyrosine at this motif of the poliovirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase with cysteine, histidine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, or serine. The enzymes were expressed in Escherichia coli, and in vitro enzyme activity was tested. The phenylalanine and methionine substitutions resulted in enzymes with activity equal to that of the wild-type enzyme. The cysteine substitution resulted in an enzyme with approximately 50% of the wild-type activity, while the serine substitution resulted in an enzyme with approximately 10% of the wild-type activity; the isoleucine and histidine substitutions resulted in background levels of enzyme activity. To assess the effects of the mutants in viral replication, the mutant polymerase genes were subcloned into the infectious cDNA clone of poliovirus. Transfection of poliovirus cDNA containing the phenylalanine mutation in 3Dpol gave rise to virus in all of the transfection trials, while cDNA containing the methionine mutation resulted in virus in only 3 of 40 transfections. Transfection of cDNAs containing the other substitutions at the tyrosine residue did not result in infectious virus. The recovered viruses demonstrated kinetics of replication similar to those of the wild-type virus, as measured by [3H]uridine incorporation at either 37 or 39 degrees C. RNA sequence analysis of the 3Dpol gene of both viruses demonstrated that the tyrosine-to-phenylalanine or tyrosine-to-methionine mutation was still present. No other differences in the 3Dpol gene between the wild-type and phenylalanine-containing virus were found. The virus containing the methionine mutation also contained two other nucleotide changes from the wild-type 3Dpol sequence; one resulted in a glutamic acid-to-aspartic acid change at amino acid 108 of the polymerase, and the other resulted in a C-to-T base change at nucleotide 6724, which did not result in an amino acid change. To confirm that the second amino acid mutation found in the 3Dpol gene of the methionine-substituted virus allowed for replication ability, a mutation corresponding to the glutamic acid-to-aspartic acid change was made in the polymerase containing the methionine substitution, and this double-mutant polymerase was expressed in E. coli. The double-mutant enzyme was as active as the wild-type enzyme under in vitro assay conditions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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