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

Changes of the secondary structure of the 5' end of the Sindbis virus genome inhibit virus growth in mosquito cells and lead to accumulation of adaptive mutations.

Both the 5' end of the Sindbis virus (SIN) genome and its complement in the 3' end of the minus-strand RNA synthesized during virus replication serve as parts of the promoters recognized by the enzymes that comprise the replication complex (RdRp). In addition to the 5' untranslated region (UTR), which was shown to be critical for the initiation of replication, another 5' sequence element, the 51-nucleotide (nt) conserved sequence element (CSE), was postulated to be important for virus replication. It is located in the nsP1-encoding sequence and is highly conserved among all members of the Alphavirus genus. Studies with viruses containing clustered mutations in this sequence demonstrated that this RNA element is dispensable for SIN replication in cells of vertebrate origin, but its integrity can enhance the replication of SIN-specific RNAs. However, we showed that the same mutations had a deleterious effect on virus replication in mosquito cells. SIN with a mutated 51-nt CSE rapidly accumulated adaptive mutations in the nonstructural proteins nsP2 and nsP3 and the 5' UTR. These mutations functioned synergistically in a cell-specific manner and had a stimulatory effect only on the replication of viruses with a mutated 51-nt CSE. Taken together, the results suggest the complex nature of interactions between nsP2, nsP3, the 5' UTR, and host-specific protein factors binding to the 51-nt CSE and involved in RdRp formation. The data also demonstrate an outstanding potential of alphaviruses for adaptation. Within one passage, SIN can adapt to replication in cells of a vertebrate or invertebrate origin.[1]


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