Author(s): Bhella D, Ralph A, Murphy LB, Yeo RP
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Abstract Nucleocapsid (N) proteins from representative viruses of three genera within the Paramyxoviridae were expressed in insect cells using recombinant baculoviruses. RNA-containing structures, which appear morphologically identical to viral nucleocapsids, were isolated and subsequently imaged under a transmission electron microscope. Analysis of these images revealed marked differences in nucleocapsid morphology among the genera investigated, most notably between viruses of the Paramyxovirinae and the Pneumovirinae subfamilies. Helical pitch measurements were made, revealing that measles virus (MV, a Morbillivirus within the subfamily Paramyxovirinae) N protein produces helices that adopt multiple conformations with varying degrees of flexibility, while that of the Rubulavirus simian virus type 5 (SV5, subfamily Paramyxovirinae) produces more rigid structures with a less heterogeneous pitch distribution. Nucleocapsids produced by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV, subfamily Pneumovirinae) appear significantly narrower than those of MV and SV5 and have a longer pitch than the most extended form of MV. In addition to helical nucleocapsids, ring structures were also produced, image analysis of which has demonstrated that rings assembled from MV N protein consist of 13 subunits. This is consistent with previous reports that Sendai virus nucleocapsids have 13.07 subunits per turn. It was determined, however, that SV5 subnucleocapsid rings have 14 subunits, while rings derived from the radically different RSV nucleocapsid have been found to contain predominantly 10 subunits.
This article was published in J Gen Virol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access