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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Regulation of the sequential processing of Semliki Forest virus replicase polyprotein.

The replication of most positive-strand RNA viruses and retroviruses is regulated by proteolytic processing. Alphavirus replicase proteins are synthesized as a polyprotein, called P1234, which is cleaved into nsP1, nsP2, nsP3, and nsP4 by the carboxyl-terminal protease domain of nsP2. The cleavage intermediate P123+nsP4 synthesizes minus-strand copies of the viral RNA genome, whereas the completely processed complex is required for plus-strand synthesis. To understand the mechanisms responsible for this sequential proteolysis, we analyzed in vitro translated Semliki Forest virus polyproteins containing noncleavable processing sites or various deletions. Processing of each of the three sites in vitro required a different type of activity. Site 3/4 was cleaved in trans by nsP2, its carboxyl-terminal fragment Pro39, and by all polyprotein proteases. Site 1/2 was cleaved in cis with a half-life of about 20-30 min. Site 2/3 was cleaved rapidly in trans but only after release of nsP1 from the polyprotein exposing an "activator" sequence present in the amino terminus of nsP2. Deletion of amino-terminal amino acids of nsP2 or addition of extra amino acid residues to its amino terminus specifically inhibited the protease activity that processes the 2/3 site. This sequence of delayed processing of P1234 would explain the accumulation of P123 plus nsP4, the early short-lived minus-strand replicase. The polyprotein stage would allow correct assembly and membrane association of the RNA-polymerase complex. Late in infection free nsP2 would cleave at site 2/3 yielding P12 and P34, the products of which, nsP1-4, are distributed to the plasma membrane, nucleus, cytoplasmic aggregates, and proteasomes, respectively.[1]


  1. Regulation of the sequential processing of Semliki Forest virus replicase polyprotein. Vasiljeva, L., Merits, A., Golubtsov, A., Sizemskaja, V., Kääriäinen, L., Ahola, T. J. Biol. Chem. (2003) [Pubmed]
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