Mutagenesis of the N-linked glycosylation sites of the yellow fever virus NS1 protein: effects on virus replication and mouse neurovirulence

Virology. 1996 Aug 1;222(1):159-68. doi: 10.1006/viro.1996.0406.


The flavivirus nonstructural glycoprotein NS1 is highly conserved and contains two N-linked glycosylation sites which are both utilized for addition of oligosaccharides during replication in cell culture. NS1 has been shown to contain epitopes for protective antibodies; however, its roles in virus replication and pathogenesis remain unknown. To study the function of NS1 during yellow fever virus replication, six mutant viruses which lack either one or both glycosylation sites and another one containing silent mutations at both sites were generated by site-directed mutagenesis. Mutants lacking the second glycosylation site and those bearing silent mutations were similar to the parental virus in their cell culture properties. Ablation of the first or both glycosylation sites generated mutants exhibiting small plaque phenotypes, decreased virus yields, reduced cytopathic effects, impaired NS1 secretion, and depressed RNA accumulation. In addition, mutants lacking the first or both glycosylation sites exhibited significant reduction in mouse neurovirulence after intracerebral inoculation. These defects appear to result from the lack of N-linked glycans rather than the introduction of deleterious amino acid substitutions or disruption of cis-acting RNA elements important for RNA replication. These results suggest an important role for NS1 in flavivirus RNA replication and pathogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Brain Diseases / virology
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Flavivirus Infections / virology
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / physiology
  • Viral Proteins / analysis
  • Virulence / genetics
  • Virus Replication
  • Yellow fever virus / genetics
  • Yellow fever virus / pathogenicity*
  • Yellow fever virus / physiology


  • NS1 protein, Flavivirus
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins
  • Viral Proteins