Mutation of a Conserved Nuclear Export Sequence in Chikungunya Virus Capsid Protein Disrupts Host Cell Nuclear Import
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Transmitted by mosquitoes; chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is responsible for frequent outbreaks of arthritic disease in humans. CHIKV is an arthritogenic alphavirus of the Togaviridae family. Capsid protein, a structural protein encoded by the CHIKV RNA genome, is able to translocate to the host cell nucleus. In encephalitic alphaviruses nuclear translocation induces host cell shut off; however, the role of capsid protein nuclear localisation in arthritogenic alphaviruses remains unclear. Using replicon systems, we investigated a nuclear export sequence (NES) in the N-terminal region of capsid protein; analogous to that found in encephalitic alphavirus capsid but uncharacterised in CHIKV. The chromosomal maintenance 1 (CRM1) export adaptor protein mediated CHIKV capsid protein export from the nucleus and a region within the N-terminal part of CHIKV capsid protein was required for active nuclear targeting. In contrast to encephalitic alphaviruses, CHIKV capsid protein did not inhibit host nuclear import; however, mutating the NES of capsid protein (∆NES) blocked host protein access to the nucleus. Interactions between capsid protein and the nucleus warrant further investigation.
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Microbiology not elsewhere classified