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Construction of murine coronavirus mutants containing interspecies chimeric nucleocapsid proteins

Construction of murine coronavirus mutants containing interspecies chimeric nucleocapsid proteins

Journal of Virology 69(9): 5475-5484

Targeted RNA recombination was used to construct mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) mutants containing chimeric nucleocapsid (N) protein genes in which segments of the bovine coronavirus N gene were substituted in place of their corresponding MHV sequences. This defined portions of the two N proteins that, despite evolutionary divergence, have remained functionally equivalent. These regions included most of the centrally located RNA-binding domain and two putative spacers that link the three domains of the N protein. By contrast, the amino terminus of N, the acidic carboxy-terminal domain, and a serine- and arginine-rich segment of the central domain could not be transferred from bovine coronavirus to MHV, presumably because these parts of the molecule participate in protein-protein interactions that are specific for each virus (or, possibly, each host). Our results demonstrate that targeted recombination can be used to make extensive substitutions in the coronavirus genome and can generate recombinants that could not otherwise be made between two viruses separated by a species barrier. The implications of these findings for N protein structure and function as well as for coronavirus RNA recombination are discussed.

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Accession: 008379670

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PMID: 7636993

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