Interactions between the Dengue Virus Polymerase NS5 and Stem-Loop A

J Virol. 2017 May 12;91(11):e00047-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00047-17. Print 2017 Jun 1.


The process of RNA replication by dengue virus is still not completely understood despite the significant progress made in the last few years. Stem-loop A (SLA), a part of the viral 5' untranslated region (UTR), is critical for the initiation of dengue virus replication, but quantitative analysis of the interactions between the dengue virus polymerase NS5 and SLA in solution has not been performed. Here, we examine how solution conditions affect the size and shape of SLA and the formation of the NS5-SLA complex. We show that dengue virus NS5 binds SLA with a 1:1 stoichiometry and that the association reaction is primarily entropy driven. We also observe that the NS5-SLA interaction is influenced by the magnesium concentration in a complex manner. Binding is optimal with 1 mM MgCl2 but decreases with both lower and higher magnesium concentrations. Additionally, data from a competition assay between SLA and single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) indicate that SLA competes with ssRNA for the same binding site on the NS5 polymerase. SLA70 and SLA80, which contain the first 70 and 80 nucleotides (nt), respectively, bind NS5 with similar binding affinities. Dengue virus NS5 also binds SLAs from different serotypes, indicating that NS5 recognizes the overall shape of SLA as well as specific nucleotides.IMPORTANCE Dengue virus is an important human pathogen responsible for dengue hemorrhagic fever, whose global incidence has increased dramatically over the last several decades. Despite the clear medical importance of dengue virus infection, the mechanism of viral replication, a process commonly targeted by antiviral therapeutics, is not well understood. In particular, stem-loop A (SLA) and stem-loop B (SLB) located in the 5' untranslated region (UTR) are critical for binding the viral polymerase NS5 to initiate minus-strand RNA synthesis. However, little is known regarding the kinetic and thermodynamic parameters driving these interactions. Here, we quantitatively examine the energetics of intrinsic affinities, characterize the stoichiometry of the complex of NS5 and SLA, and determine how solution conditions such as magnesium and sodium concentrations and temperature influence NS5-SLA interactions in solution. Quantitatively characterizing dengue virus NS5-SLA interactions will facilitate the design and assessment of antiviral therapeutics that target this essential step of the dengue virus life cycle.

Keywords: NS5; RNA polymerase; dengue virus; stem-loop A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5' Untranslated Regions / drug effects
  • 5' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • 5' Untranslated Regions / physiology*
  • Binding Sites / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Dengue
  • Dengue Virus / genetics
  • Dengue Virus / physiology*
  • Entropy
  • Humans
  • Inverted Repeat Sequences*
  • Magnesium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Serogroup
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Attachment / drug effects
  • Virus Replication


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • NS5 protein, dengue virus
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins
  • Magnesium Chloride