Spatial and temporal control of norovirus protease activity is determined by polyprotein processing and intermolecular interactions within the viral replication complex

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de Rougemont, Alexis  ORCID logo
Haas, Jürgen 

Norovirus infections are a major cause of acute viral gastroenteritis and a significant burden to human health globally. A vital process for norovirus replication is the processing of the nonstructural polyprotein, by an internal protease, into the necessary viral components required to form the viral replication complex. This cleavage occurs at different rates resulting in the accumulation of stable precursor forms. In this report, we characterized how precursor forms of the norovirus protease accumulate during infection. Using stable forms of the protease precursors we demonstrated that these are all proteolytically active in vitro , but that when expressed in cells, activity is determined by both substrate and protease localization. Whilst all precursors could cleave a replication complex-associated substrate, only a subset of precursors lacking NS4 were capable of efficiently cleaving a cytoplasmic substrate. For the first time, the full range of protein-protein interactions between murine and human norovirus proteins were mapped by LUMIER assay, with conserved interactions between replication complex members, modifying the localization of a subset of precursors. Finally, we demonstrate that re-targeting of a poorly cleaved artificial cytoplasmic substrate to the replication complex is sufficient to permit efficient cleavage in the context of norovirus infection. This offers a model for how norovirus can regulate the timing of substrate cleavage throughout the replication cycle. The norovirus protease represents a key target in the search for effective antiviral treatments for norovirus infection. An improved understanding of protease function and regulation, as well as identification of interactions between the other non-structural proteins, offers new avenues for antiviral drug design.

3101 Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 31 Biological Sciences, Prevention, Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Related, Biodefense, Foodborne Illness, 2 Aetiology, 2.2 Factors relating to the physical environment, 2.1 Biological and endogenous factors, Generic health relevance, Infection
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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/N001176/1)
Wellcome Trust (207498/Z/17/Z)
Wellcome Trust (207498/Z/17/Z)