The HCV NS5A protein plays multiple roles during viral replication, including viral genome replication and virus particle assembly. The crystal structures of the NS5A N-terminal domain indicated the potential existence of the NS5A dimers formed via at least two or more distinct dimeric interfaces. However, it is unknown whether these different forms of NS5A dimers are involved in its numerous functions. To address this question, we mutated the residues lining the two different NS5A dimer interfaces and determined their effects on NS5A self-interaction, NS5A-cyclophilin A (CypA) interaction, HCV RNA replication and infectious virus production. We found that the mutations targeting either of two dimeric interfaces disrupted the NS5A self-interaction in cells. The NS5A dimer-interrupting mutations also inhibited both viral RNA replication and infectious virus production with some genotypic differences. We also determined that reduced NS5A self-interaction was associated with altered NS5A-CypA interaction, NS5A hyperphosphorylation and NS5A subcellular localization, providing the mechanistic bases for the role of NS5A self-interaction in multiple steps of HCV replication. The NS5A oligomers formed via different interfaces are likely its functional form, since the residues at two different dimeric interfaces played similar roles in different aspects of NS5A functions and, consequently, HCV replication. In conclusion, this study provides novel insight into the functional significance of NS5A self-interaction in different steps of the HCV replication, potentially, in the form of oligomers formed via multiple dimeric interfaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology