Alphavirus replicase protein nsP1 has multiple functions during viral RNA synthesis. It catalyzes methyltransferase and guanylyltransferase activities needed in viral mRNA capping, attaches the viral replication complex to cytoplasmic membranes, and is required for minus-strand RNA synthesis. Two temperature-sensitive (ts) mutations in Semliki Forest virus (SFV) were previously identified within nsP1: ts10 (E529D) and ts14 (D119N). Recombinant viruses containing these individual mutations reproduced the features of the original ts strains. We now find that the capping-associated enzymatic activities of recombinant nsP1, containing ts10 or ts14 lesions, were not ts. The mutant proteins and polyproteins also were membrane bound, mutant nsP1 interacted normally with the other nonstructural proteins, and there was no major defect in nonstructural polyprotein processing in the mutants, although ts14 surprisingly displayed slightly retarded processing. The two mutant viruses were specifically defective in minus-strand RNA synthesis at the restrictive temperature. Integrating data from SFV and Sindbis virus, we discuss the domain structure of nsP1 and the relative positioning of and interactions between the replicase proteins. nsP1 is suggested to contain a specific subdomain involved in minus-strand synthesis and interaction with the polymerase nsP4 and the protease nsP2.
Lulla, V., Sawicki, D. L., Sawicki, S. G., Lulla, A., Merits, A., & Ahola, T. (2008). Molecular defects caused by temperature-sensitive mutations in Semliki Forest virus nsP1. Journal of Virology, 82(18), 9236-9244. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00711-08