Non-structural proteins of Periplaneta fuliginosa densovirus inhibit cellular gene expression and induce necrosis in Sf9 cell cultures

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The non-structural protein NS1 of Periplaneta fuliginosa densovirus (PfDNV) is a multifunctional protein that has previously been shown to possess ATP-binding, ATPase, site-specific DNA-binding, helicase, and transcription activation activities. We report here an investigation of the cytopathogenicity of this viral non-structural (NS) protein, as well as other two NSs, NS2, and NS3, in cultured insect cells. The expression of NS1 alone potently inhibited cellular gene expression, whereas NS2 and NS3 did not produce a similar effect. The inhibition of gene expression by NS1 was confirmed to be specific and not a simple manifestation of toxicity. For example, NS1 inhibited expression of several reporter genes under the control of different RNA polymerase II promoters, whereas it did not inhibit expression from a T7 RNA polymerase promoter construct. Mapping analysis identified the carboxy-terminal peptide of this protein as the region important for the inhibition of cellular gene expression, suggesting that this inhibition is independent of its DNA-binding activity. Next, the mutagenesis assay showed that ATP-binding was essential for the unique function of this protein. Furthermore, we found that NS2 and NS3 cooperatively enhanced the NS1-induced transcription inhibition. Co-expression of all the three NS proteins in Sf9 cells also led to necrotic cell death by ATP depletion.

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