RNA-dependent RNA polymerase
|RNA-directed RNA polymerase|
RNA Replicase structure
|PDB structures||RCSB PDB PDBe PDBsum|
|Gene Ontology||AmiGO / EGO|
|RNA-directed RNA polymerase, flaviviral|
RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), (RDR), or RNA replicase, is an enzyme that catalyzes the replication of RNA from an RNA template. This is in contrast to a typical DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which catalyzes the transcription of RNA from a DNA template.
RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) is an essential protein encoded in the genomes of all RNA-containing viruses with no DNA stage that have sense negative RNA.12 It catalyses synthesis of the RNA strand complementary to a given RNA template. The RNA replication process is a two-step mechanism. First, the initiation step of RNA synthesis begins at or near the 3' end of the RNA template by means of a primer-independent (de novo), or a primer-dependent mechanism that utilizes a viral protein genome-linked (VPg) primer. The de novo initiation consists in the addition of a nucleotide tri-phosphate (NTP) to the 3'-OH of the first initiating NTP. During the following so-called elongation phase, this nucleotidyl transfer reaction is repeated with subsequent NTPs to generate the complementary RNA product.3
A VPg primer mechanism is utilized by the picornavirus (entero- aphtho- and others), additional virus groups (poty-, como-, calici- and others) and picornavirus-like (coronavirus, notavirus, etc.) supergroup of RNA viruses. The mechanism has been best studied for the enteroviruses (which include many human pathogens, such as poliovirus and coxsackie viruses) as well as for the aphthovirus, an animal pathogen causing foot and mouth disease (FMDV).
In this group, primer-dependent RNA synthesis utilizes a small 22–25 amino acid long viral protein linked to the genome (VPg)4 to initiate polymerase activity, where the primer is covalently bound to the 5’ end of the RNA template.5 The uridylylation occurs at a tyrosine residue at the third position of the VPg. A cis-acting replication element (CRE), which is a RNA stem loop structure, serves as a template for the uridylylation of VPg, resulting in the synthesis of VPgpUpUOH. Mutations within the CRE-RNA structure prevent VPg uridylylation, and mutations within the VPg sequence can severely diminish RdRp catalytic activity.6 While the tyrosine hydroxyl of VPg can prime negative-strand RNA synthesis in a CRE- and VPgpUpUOH-independent manner, CRE-dependent VPgpUpUOH synthesis is absolutely required for positive-strand RNA synthesis. CRE-dependent VPg uridylylation lowers the Km¬ of UTP required for viral RNA replication and CRE-dependent VPgpUpUOH synthesis, and is required for efficient negative-strand RNA synthesis, especially when UTP concentrations are limiting.7 The VPgpUpUOH primer is transferred to the 3’ end of the RNA template for elongation, which can continue by addition of nucleotide bases by RdRp. Partial crystal structures for VPgs of foot and mouth disease virus8 and coxsackie virus B39 suggest that there may be two sites on the viral polymerase for the small VPgs of the picornaviruses. NMR solution structures of poliovirus VPg10 and VPgpU11 show that uridylylation stabilizes the structure of the VPg, which is otherwise quite flexible in solution. The second site may be used for uridylylation,12 after which the VPgpU can initiate RNA synthesis. It should be noted that the VPg primers of caliciviruses, whose structures are only beginning to be revealed,13 are much larger than those of the picornaviruses. Mechanisms for uridylylation and priming may be quite different in all of these groups.
VPg uridylylation may include the use of precursor proteins, allowing for the determination of a possible mechanism for the location of the diuridylylated, VPg-containing precursor at the 3’ end of plus- or minus-strand RNA for production of full-length RNA. Determinants of VPg uridylylation efficiency suggest formation and/or collapse or release of the uridylylated product as the rate-limiting step in vitro depending upon the VPg donor employed.14 Precursor proteins also have an effect on VPg-CRE specificity and stability.15 The upper RNA stem loop, to which VPg binds, has a significant impact on both retention, and recruitment, of VPg and Pol. The stem loop of CRE will partially unwind, allowing the precursor components to bind and recruit VPg and Pol4. The CRE loop has a defined consensus sequence to which the initiation components bind, however; there is no consensus sequence for the supporting stem, which suggests that only the structural stability of the CRE is important.16
Assembly and organization of the picornavirus VPg ribonucleoprotein complex.
- Step 1: Two 3CD (VPg complex) molecules bind to CRE with the 3C domains (VPg domain) contacting the upper stem and the 3D domains (VPg domain) contacting the lower stem.
- Step 2: The 3C dimer opens the RNA stem by forming a more stable interaction with single strands forming the stem.
- Step 3: 3Dpol is recruited to and retained in this complex by a physical interaction between the back of the thumb subdomain of 3Dpol and a surface of one or both 3C subdomains of 3CD.
VPg may also play an important role in specific recognition of viral genome by movement protein (MP). Movement proteins are non-structural proteins encoded by many, if not all, plant viruses to enable their movement from one infected cell to neighboring cells.17 MP and VPg interact to provide specificity for the transport of viral RNA from cell to cell. To fulfill energy requirements, MP also interacts with P10, which is a cellular ATPase.
Viral RdRPs were discovered in the early 1960s from studies on mengovirus and polio virus when it was observed that these viruses were not sensitive to actinomycin D, a drug that inhibits cellular DNA-directed RNA synthesis. This lack of sensitivity suggested that there is a virus-specific enzyme that could copy RNA from an RNA template and not from a DNA template.
The most famous example of RdRP is that of the polio virus. The viral genome is composed of RNA, which enters the cell through receptor-mediated endocytosis. From there, the RNA is able to act as a template for complementary RNA synthesis, immediately. The complementary strand is then, itself, able to act as a template for the production of new viral genomes that are further packaged and released from the cell ready to infect more host cells. The advantage of this method of replication is that there is no DNA stage; replication is quick and easy. The disadvantage is that there is no 'back-up' DNA copy.
Many RdRPs are associated tightly with membranes and are, therefore, difficult to study. The best-known RdRPs are polioviral 3Dpol, vesicular stomatitis virus L, and hepatitis C virus NS5b protein.
Many eukaryotes also have RdRPs involved in an amplification of RNA interference. In them RdRP transcribes secondary- siRNAs, which in turn are bound by class 3 Argonauts (SAGO) to repress target RNA.18 In fact these same RdRPs that are used in the defense mechanisms can be usurped by RNA viruses for their benefit.citation needed
RdRps are highly conserved throughout viruses and is even related to telomerase, though the reason for such high conservation in such diverse organisms is an ongoing question as of 2009.19 The similarity has led to speculation that viral RdRps are ancestral to human telomerase.
All the RNA-directed RNA polymerases, and many DNA-directed polymerases, employ a fold whose organization has been likened to the shape of a right hand with three subdomains termed fingers, palm, and thumb.20 Only the palm subdomain, composed of a four-stranded antiparallel beta-sheet with two alpha-helices, is well conserved among all of these enzymes. In RdRp, the palm subdomain comprises three well-conserved motifs (A, B, and C). Motif A (D-x(4,5)-D) and motif C (GDD) are spatially juxtaposed; the Asp residues of these motifs are implied in the binding of Mg2+ and/or Mn2+. The Asn residue of motif B is involved in selection of ribonucleoside triphosphates over dNTPs and, thus, determines whether RNA rather than DNA is synthesized.21 The domain organization22 and the 3D structure of the catalytic centre of a wide range of RdPps, even those with a low overall sequence homology, are conserved. The catalytic centre is formed by several motifs containing a number of conserved amino acid residues.
There are 4 superfamilies of viruses that cover all RNA-containing viruses with no DNA stage:
- Viruses containing positive-strand RNA or double-strand RNA, except retroviruses and Birnaviridae: viral RNA-directed RNA polymerases including all positive-strand RNA viruses with no DNA stage, double-strand RNA viruses, and the Cystoviridae, Reoviridae, Hypoviridae, Partitiviridae, Totiviridae families
- Mononegavirales (negative-strand RNA viruses with non-segmented genomes)
- Negative-strand RNA viruses with segmented genomes, i.e., Orthomyxoviruses (including influenza A, B, and C viruses, Thogotoviruses, and the infectious salmon anemia virus), Arenaviruses, Bunyaviruses, Hantaviruses, Nairoviruses, Phleboviruses, Tenuiviruses and Tospoviruses
- Birnaviridae family of dsRNA viruses.
The RNA-directed RNA polymerases in the first of the above superfamilies can be divided into the following three subgroups:
- All positive-strand RNA eukaryotic viruses with no DNA stage
- All RNA-containing bacteriophages -there are two families of RNA-containing bacteriophages: Leviviridae (positive ssRNA phages) and Cystoviridae (dsRNA phages)
- Reoviridae family of dsRNA viruses.
Flaviviruses produce a polyprotein from the ssRNA genome. The polyprotein is cleaved to a number of products, one of which is NS5. Recombinant dengue type 1 virus NS5 protein expressed in Escherichia coli exhibits RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity. This RNA-directed RNA polymerase possesses a number of short regions and motifs homologous to other RNA-directed RNA polymerases.23
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