Virus genes

The juxtamembrane sequence of the Hepatitis C virus polymerase can affect RNA synthesis and inhibition by allosteric polymerase inhibitors.

PMID 25895103


The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), nonstructural protein 5B (NS5B), is anchored in the membrane through a C-terminal helix. A sequence of ca. 12 residues that connects the catalytically competent portion of the RdRp and the C-terminal helix, the juxtamembrane sequence (JMS), has a poorly defined role in RdRp function in a large part since it is translated from a cis-acting RNA element (CRE) that is essential for HCV replication. Using a HCV replicon that transposed a second copy of CRE to the 3' UTR of the HCV replicon, we demonstrate that amino acid substitutions in the JMS were detrimental for HCV replicon replication. Substitutions in the JMS also resulted in a defect in de novo-initiated RNAs synthesis in vitro and in a cell-based reporter assay. A nonnucleoside inhibitor of the NS5B that binds to the catalytic pocket was less potent in inhibiting NS5B in the presence of JMS mutations. The JMS mutants exhibit reduced stability in thermodenaturation assays, suggesting that the JMS helps confer a more stable conformation to NS5B that could impact RNA synthesis.