Systematic, genome-wide identification of host genes affecting replication of a positive-strand RNA virus

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15764-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2536857100. Epub 2003 Dec 11.


Positive-strand RNA viruses are the largest virus class and include many pathogens such as hepatitis C virus and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS). Brome mosaic virus (BMV) is a representative positive-strand RNA virus whose RNA replication, gene expression, and encapsidation have been reproduced in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. By using traditional yeast genetics, host genes have been identified that function in controlling BMV translation, selecting BMV RNAs as replication templates, activating the replication complex, maintaining a lipid composition required for membrane-associated RNA replication, and other steps. To more globally and systematically identify such host factors, we used engineered BMV derivatives to assay viral RNA replication in each strain of an ordered, genome-wide set of yeast single-gene deletion mutants. Each deletion strain was transformed to express BMV replicase proteins and a BMV RNA replication template with the capsid gene replaced by a luciferase reporter. Luciferase expression, which is dependent on viral RNA replication and RNA-dependent mRNA synthesis, was measured in intact yeast cells. Approximately 4500 yeast deletion strains ( approximately 80% of yeast genes) were screened in duplicate and selected strains analyzed further. This functional genomics approach revealed nearly 100 genes whose absence inhibited or stimulated BMV RNA replication and/or gene expression by 3- to >25-fold. Several of these genes were shown previously to function in BMV replication, validating the approach. Newly identified genes include some in RNA, protein, or membrane modification pathways and genes of unknown function. The results further illuminate virus and cell pathways. Further refinement of virus screening likely will reveal contributions from additional host genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bromovirus / genetics
  • Coronavirus / genetics
  • Enzymes / genetics
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Humans
  • RNA Viruses / enzymology
  • RNA Viruses / genetics*
  • RNA Viruses / pathogenicity
  • RNA Viruses / physiology
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*
  • Virus Replication / genetics*


  • Enzymes
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins