Conserved amino acids within the N-terminus of the West Nile virus NS4A protein contribute to virus replication, protein stability and membrane proliferation.

PMID 25771497


The West Nile virus strain Kunjin virus (WNVKUN) NS4A protein is a multifunctional protein involved in many aspects of the virus life-cycle and is a major component of the WNVKUN replication complex (RC). Previously we identified a conserved region in the C-terminus of NS4A regulating proteolytic processing and RC assembly, and now investigate key conserved residues in the N-terminus of NS4A and their contribution to WNVKUN replication. Mutation of P13 completely ablated replication, whereas, mutation of P48 and D49, near the first transmembrane helix, and G66 within the helix, showed variable defects in replication, virion secretion and membrane proliferation. Intriguingly, the P48 and G66 NS4A mutants resulted in specific proteasome depletion of NS4A that could in part be rescued with a proteasome inhibitor. Our results suggest that the N-terminus of NS4A contributes to correct folding and stability, essential for facilitating the essential roles of NS4A during replication.