Author(s): Markoff L, Falgout B, Chang A
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Abstract The mature flavivirus capsid protein (virion C) is commonly thought to be free in the cytoplasm of infected cells and to form a nucleocapsid-like complex with genomic RNA in mature virus particles. There is little sequence conservation among flavivirus virion C proteins, but they are similar in size (e.g., 99 amino acids [aa] for the dengue-4 [DEN4] C) and in bearing a net positive charge. In addition, we noted that C contained a conserved internal hydrophobic segment (spanning aa 45-65 in the DEN4 C). Results of in vivo expression and in vitro translation of wt and mutant forms of the DEN4 virion C demonstrated that the conserved internal hydrophobic segment in the DEN C functioned as a membrane anchor domain. Signal peptide function of this segment was also suggested by its requirement for the entry of C into membranes. Virion C was integrated in membranes in a "hairpin" conformation; positively charged segments amino- and carboxy-terminal to the hydrophobic signal-anchor segment were accessible to protease digestion in the "cytoplasm." The net positive charge in the amino-terminal extramembraneous portion of C (aa 1-44) was one determinant of the hairpin membrane orientation; a conserved positively charged residue within the hydrophobic segment (Arg-54 in the DEN4 C) was not.
This article was published in Virology
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy