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Mutation of neuraminidase cysteine residues yields temperature-sensitive influenza viruses

Mutation of neuraminidase cysteine residues yields temperature-sensitive influenza viruses

Journal of Virology 73(10): 8095-8103

The influenza virus neuraminidase (NA) is a tetrameric, virus surface glycoprotein possessing receptor-destroying activity. This enzyme facilitates viral release and is a target of anti-influenza virus drugs. The NA structure has been extensively studied, and the locations of disulfide bonds within the NA monomers have been identified. Because mutation of cysteine residues in other systems has resulted in temperature-sensitive (ts) proteins, we asked whether mutation of cysteine residues in the influenza virus NA would yield ts mutants. The ability to rationally design tight and stable ts mutations could facilitate the creation of efficient helper viruses for influenza virus reverse genetics experiments. We generated a series of cysteine-to-glycine mutants in the influenza A/WSN/33 virus NA. These were assayed for neuraminidase activity in a transient expression system, and active mutants were rescued into infectious virus by using established reverse genetics techniques. Mutation of two cysteines not involved in intrasubunit disulfide bonds, C49 and C146, had modest effects on enzymatic activity and on viral replication. Mutation of two cysteines, C303 and C320, which participate in a single disulfide bond located in the beta5L0,1 loop, produced ts enzymes. Additionally, the C303G and C320G transfectant viruses were found to be attenuated and ts. Because both the C303G and C320G viruses exhibited stable ts phenotypes, they were tested as helper viruses in reverse genetics experiments. Efficiently rescued were an N1 neuraminidase from an avian H5N1 virus, an N2 neuraminidase from a human H3N2 virus, and an N7 neuraminidase from an H7N7 equine virus. Thus, these cysteine-to-glycine NA mutants allow the rescue of a variety of wild-type and mutant NAs into influenza virus.

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Accession: 011029322

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PMID: 10482558

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