ADP-ribosylation is a common post-translational modification, although how it modulates RNA virus infection is not well understood. While screening for ADP-ribosylated proteins during coronavirus (CoV) infection, we detected a ~55kDa ADP-ribosylated protein in mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)-infected cells and in virions, which we identified as the viral nucleocapsid (N) protein. The N proteins of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV were also ADP-ribosylated. ADP-ribosylation of N protein was also observed in cells exogenously expressing N protein by transduction using Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles (VRPs). However, plasmid-derived N protein was not ADP-ribosylated following transient transfection but was ADP-ribosylated after MHV infection, indicating that this modification requires virus infection. In conclusion, we have identified a novel post-translation modification of the CoV N protein that may play a regulatory role for this important structural protein.
Keywords: ADP-ribosylation; Coronavirus; MERS-CoV; Macrodomain; Mouse hepatitis virus; Nucleocapsid; PEDV; SARS-CoV.
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