Highly conserved residues in the helical domain of dengue virus type 1 precursor membrane protein are involved in assembly, precursor membrane (prM) protein cleavage, and entry

J Biol Chem. 2014 Nov 28;289(48):33149-60. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.610428. Epub 2014 Oct 17.


The envelope and precursor membrane (prM) proteins of dengue virus (DENV) are present on the surface of immature virions. During maturation, prM protein is cleaved by furin protease into pr peptide and membrane (M) protein. Although previous studies mainly focusing on the pr region have identified several residues important for DENV replication, the functional role of M protein, particularly the α-helical domain (MH), which is predicted to undergo a large conformational change during maturation, remains largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the role of nine highly conserved MH domain residues in the replication cycle of DENV by site-directed mutagenesis in a DENV1 prME expression construct and found that alanine substitutions introduced to four highly conserved residues at the C terminus and one at the N terminus of the MH domain greatly affect the production of both virus-like particles and replicon particles. Eight of the nine alanine mutants affected the entry of replicon particles, which correlated with the impairment in prM cleavage. Moreover, seven mutants were found to have reduced prM-E interaction at low pH, which may inhibit the formation of smooth immature particles and exposure of prM cleavage site during maturation, thus contributing to inefficient prM cleavage. Taken together, these results are the first report showing that highly conserved MH domain residues, located at 20-38 amino acids downstream from the prM cleavage site, can modulate the prM cleavage, maturation of particles, and virus entry. The highly conserved nature of these residues suggests potential targets of antiviral strategy.

Keywords: Dengue Virus; Flavivirus; Maturation; Membrane Protein; Plus-stranded RNA Virus; Replicon Particles; Virus Assembly; Virus Structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Cell Line
  • Dengue Virus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proteolysis*
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Internalization*
  • Virus Replication / physiology*


  • Viral Matrix Proteins