Journal of virology

Roles of Phosphorylation of the Nucleocapsid Protein of Mumps Virus in Regulating Viral RNA Transcription and Replication.

PMID 25948749


Mumps virus (MuV) is a paramyxovirus with a negative-sense nonsegmented RNA genome. The viral RNA genome is encapsidated by the nucleocapsid protein (NP) to form the ribonucleoprotein (RNP), which serves as a template for transcription and replication. In this study, we investigated the roles of phosphorylation sites of NP in MuV RNA synthesis. Using radioactive labeling, we first demonstrated that NP was phosphorylated in MuV-infected cells. Using both liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and in silico modeling, we identified nine putative phosphorylated residues within NP. We mutated these nine residues to alanine. Mutation of the serine residue at position 439 to alanine (S439A) was found to reduce the phosphorylation of NP in transfected cells by over 90%. The effects of these mutations on the MuV minigenome system were examined. The S439A mutant was found to have higher activity, four mutants had lower activity, and four mutants had similar activity compared to wild-type NP. MuV containing the S439A mutation had 90% reduced phosphorylation of NP and enhanced viral RNA synthesis and viral protein expression at early time points after infection, indicating that S439 is the major phosphorylation site of NP and its phosphorylation plays an important role in downregulating viral RNA synthesis. Mumps virus (MuV), a paramyxovirus, is an important human pathogen that is reemerging in human populations. Nucleocapsid protein (NP) of MuV is essential for viral RNA synthesis. We have identified the major phosphorylation site of NP. We have found that phosphorylation of NP plays a critical role in regulating viral RNA synthesis. The work will lead to a better understanding of viral RNA synthesis and possible novel targets for antiviral drug development.